Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Synopsis
Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.

The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.

The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.

My Review
A Cajun Christmas Killing is a cozy mystery set in a small town in Louisiana.   Maggie Crozat is an artist who has left her life in New York to help out at her family's bed and breakfast.  When one of the B&B guests is discovered murdered, Maggie works to solve the crime ... especially because her boyfriend, police detective Bo Durand, is a suspect.

This is my first read in the Cajun Country Mystery series and it was really enjoyable.  It worked as a stand alone, but I now want to look for the other books in this series and catch up!

I loved the Cajun country atmosphere.  I have spent time in Louisiana and loved it, and the author, Ellen Byron, really captured the area's charm so well.

I also liked the Christmas setting and the descriptions of decorations and festivities.   Anyone who enjoys Christmas mysteries will like this as well.

As a bonus, there were even a few dogs in this book (which always makes a mystery better!) -- basset hound Gopher, rescued stray dog Jolie (and her puppies), and a tiny little dog named King Cake.

I liked the character of Maggie.  I enjoyed "meeting" her family and friends in the book, and liked the way she worked with Bo's relative Rufus to solve the mystery.  I also liked the slow-building relationship between Maggie and Bo.

I recommend A Cajun Christmas Killing to fans of cozy mysteries, Christmas mysteries, and atmospheric southern mysteries.   This book is perfect for a leisurely weekend read!  



Author Bio
Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shudders, made the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she’s written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.

Author Links
Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N

Giveaway
(1) Hardcover Copy - A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron + swag (U.S. Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway  


I received a copy of this book from Great Escapes Book Tour and Netgalley.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Rin Tin Tin

Dear Friends,

When I asked my Facebook friends for favorite TV dogs, several people answered Rin Tin Tin.  My Momma and I have heard of this dog, and knew he was a handsome German Shepherd, but neither of us have seen the old TV show.  So it was fun to learn more!
Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd dog.  Much like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin originally starred in a series of movies (1922 - 1947).  And, also like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin was played by a series of different dogs.

The TV series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin was a children's series on ABC, and it aired from 1954 - 1959.  It was the story of a little boy named Rusty who lived on a U.S. Calvary post called Fort Apache.  (The series was filmed on the set of the John Ford movie Fort Apache.)  Rusty had a special friend named Rin Tin Tin.  He was initially played by a dog named Rin Tin Tin IV (a descendent of the movie star dog), and later by a German Shepherd named Flame, Jr.

Rin Tin Tin was later mentioned in the novel Sunnyside by Glen David Gold and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean.

Anne Frank wrote in her diary that she wished she had a dog like Rin Tin Tin (June 14, 1942).

Like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin was popular in toys and books for children.  A few examples include this comic book:


This Marx toys Fort Apache playset (note little Rin Tin Tin figure):


... and even a toy gun:

Here is a short video with the opening and closing credits for The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin:



Thank you for visiting today!  I hope you enjoyed reading about Rin Tin Tin.  Have you seen this TV show before?

Love,

Abby xoxoxo

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Cat Got Your Secrets: A Kitty Couture Mystery by Julie Chase

Book Synopsis
Lacy Marie Crocker has settled into a comfortable groove back home in New Orleans, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, she’s busier than ever running a thriving pet boutique, helping her mother organize the upcoming National Pet Pageant, and untangling her complicated love life. But when delivering a king-sized order of dreidel-shaped doggy biscuits for a Saint Berdoodle’s bark-mitzvah, Lacy stumbles into yet another murder scene—and the last person to see the victim alive was her own father.

It’s up to Lacy to clear her dad’s name from the suspect list before Detective Jack Oliver has to cage him for good. But just when she starts pawing at the truth, she receives a threatening letter from a mysterious blackmailer bent on silencing her with her own secrets. And Lacy’s not the only one with bones in her closet.

Author Bio
Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie Anne Lindsey here. 

Webpage: http://juliechasebooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieChaseAuthor/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14957369.Julie_Chase
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulieALindsey

Purchase Links
Amazon     B&N     BAM!    IndieBound

Giveaway
(1) Paperback set of books 1 & 2 Cat Got Your Diamonds & Cat Got Your Cash + a themed wallet filled with mardi gras beads!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Lassie

Dear Friends,

I am excited to introduce a new blog series.  I will be profiling some famous TV dogs (both retro and more recent) here.   I think this will be a lot of fun!


When you mention TV dogs, most people think of Lassie first.   Lassie was a long running TV series that ran from 1954 - 1973.   Lassie the dog was a beautiful collie.  She lived with the Miller family (with their son Jeff), and then the Martin family, and was great friends to a boy named Timmy.   Lassie had many adventures in the farm community where she lived.


Lassie with actors Jon Provost and June Lockhart
Before the TV series there was a children's book called Lassie Comes Home (Eric Knight) and a series of MGM movies.  The popularity of the Lassie character was perfect for the early days of television.

Several different dogs played Lassie over the years.  They were from the same family:  Lassie, Lassie Jr., Spook, Baby, and Mire.  All but one of these dogs lived to be at least 17 years old!

Lassie was so popular that there were all types of Lassie items in stores - even a Halloween costume!   Other Lassie items included:

Books, like Hooray for Lassie.  (My Momma wrote a blog post about this book here -- there is a Dachshund in it!)

Coloring books:

Comic books:


Lunch boxes:



Games:



Here's a little fun trivia about Lassie:


  • The first boy to appear in the Lassie TV show, Tommy Rettig ("Jeff") was allergic to dogs.
  • Chloris Leachman of The Mary Tyler Moore Show briefly played Timmy's mother on the show.
  • Lassie appeared in Keep America Beautiful posters in the 1960's with Lady Bird Johnson.
  • Lassie had dog friends including two miniature poodles, Buttons and Bows, and a Jack Russell Terrier named Mel.
  • Lassie's trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, was the uncle of Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley on The Addams Family).
  • Lassie was always played by a boy dog on TV.

I enjoyed learning about Lassie, and hope you had fun reading this too!   Have you ever seen this show?  Are you a collie fan?  Do you have a favorite TV dog?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo 



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Body on Baker Street: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany

Book Synopsis
Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table―dead.

Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.

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 twenty-five books:  clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. Under the name of Eva Gates, she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series for Penguin Random House. Her latest book is Body on Baker Street, the second in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane.

Vicki is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.  Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. 

Author Links
www.vickidelany.com   
Facebook:  Vicki Delany & Eva Gates  
Twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N


Giveaway
(1) Print Copy Body on Baker Street: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - A Christmas Peril (A Theater Cop Mystery) by J. A. Hennrikus

Book Synopsis
When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company. For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crimes and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director.

But when her best friend is arrested for killing his father, the rich and powerful Peter Whitehall, no one is looking for another suspect. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a killer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband gets on the suspect list and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.

My Review
A Christmas Peril is the first book in a fun new mystery series.  It focuses on Sully Sullivan, a former police officer who now manages a local theater.  As she prepares a production of A Christmas Carol, she gets drawn into the mystery of a wealthy local businessman's murder.   

This was a very enjoyable mystery!  I was interested in reading it because I love theater.  (I worked in theater in my 20's.)  I also love A Christmas Carol.  These aspects of the story were particularly enjoyable to me.

Sully is a great character - strong, brave, and resourceful.  I enjoyed seeing her use her skills as a former police officer to solve a local mystery.   The budding romance in the book was also a fun aspect.

There are a lot of characters introduced during the first few chapters, and I found them a little hard to keep up with initially.  Once I got a few chapters in, though, I found the book hard to put down.

The book is well written, with well developed characters and an intriguing mystery.  It moves quickly and is well paced.

I recommend A Christmas Peril for fans of cozy mysteries.  Anyone who loves theater will especially enjoy this book.


Author Bio
J. A. Hennrikus is the author of the Theater Cop Mystery series. As Julianne Holmes, she writes the Agatha-nominated Clock Shop Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. Hennrikus blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors, is on the board of Sisters in Crime, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America. She is also an arts administrator who lives in Massachusetts. 

Visit her online at www.JHAuthors.com.

Webpage – https://jahennrikus.com/
Wicked Cozy Authors Blog – https://wickedcozyauthors.com/ 

She tweets under @JulieHennrikus, and am on Pinterest and Instagram, and have a page on Facebook. I also blog on Live to Write/Write to Live, and I blog on Killer Characters on the 20th of each month.

Purchase Links
Amazon   B&N

Giveaway
(2) Print Copy - A Christmas Peril (A Theater Cop Mystery) by J. A. Hennrikus - U.S. Only.  (Ends 9/21)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Great Escapes Book Tour.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dear Abby: Things I Learned On Summer Break

Dear Friends,

I am so glad to be back!  Did you miss me?  I missed chatting with you here.   I had a fun and relaxing month off.  My time included a houseguest (my friend Elsie), a birthday, and lots of time to rest and enjoy life.

Here are a few things I learned on my time off:

It's nice to have some time to just relax.


A friend makes any day nicer!  This is my friend Elsie, who stayed with me for 5 days while her dad was out of town.


Sometimes you have to share the softest pillow.


 With a good friend you can just relax together.


Birthdays are fun!  (I turned 8 years old on August 25.)


They are REALLY exciting!


What is that?  Is it for me?


 Birthdays involve treats!


 And at the end of the day, there is always time to take a nap.


How was your summer?  I hope you had a great one!   I am really glad to be back blogging and look forward to catching up regularly here.

Have a great weekend!

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


Book Review - Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Book Synopsis
Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor? 

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.
But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

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Purchase Links


Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

My Review 

Beneath Copper Falls is a mystery in the Rock Harbor series by Colleen Coble.  This book tells the story of Dana Newell.  Dana is a 911 dispatcher, recently returned to her hometown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  She is on the run from a dangerous stalker ... but finds herself involved in solving another mystery with the help of an intriguing man named Boone.

 

This is a true romantic suspense novel, with the romantic storyline and mystery having fairly equal roles in the story.   I thought both aspects of the storytelling were strong.

 

Dana is a brave, kind woman who has had a tough life since her parents died tragically in a boating accident when she was 8 years old.  She relies on her faith, her friends, and her stepbrother Chris.  

 

Boone is a fire jumper who was scarred in a fire.  He is cautious of romantic involvement until he meets Dana.   I loved the way these two wounded people found strength together, and the way their immediate connection was based on friendship first.

 

There are two mysteries in this novel:  Dana's ex-boyfriend stalker, and also the mysterious deaths of several women who died under similar circumstances.   The mysteries were very well done.  I found it hard to put this book down because I wanted to see how these storylines were resolved, and also see if they were somehow connected.

 

This is my first read in the Rock Harbor series.  It took me a few chapters to catch up with the characters and figure out who was who and how they were connected.  That said, Beneath Copper Falls then worked well as a standalone novel.  

 

I recommend Beneath Copper Falls for fans of romantic suspense, fast paced mysteries, and Christian fiction.   I look forward to reading more by Colleen Coble in the future.  

Author Bio
USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

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