Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - KJV Know the Word Study Bible

Book Synopsis
Diving deeper into God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

My Review
The KJV Know The Word Study Bible is a wonderful Bible for anyone who wants to read the Bible regularly and really study it.   Readers can choose to go book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic.  I really like the selections of topic by topic articles available.  For instance:

"Love
Note 1: Love Is an Action (Gen. 22:2)
Note 2: Why Choose Love? (Col. 3:1 - 15)
Note 3: God's Love Poured Out (Rom. 5:5 - 10)
Note 4: How Love Behaves (I Cor. 13: 1 - 13)
Note 5: Because God Is Love, We Love (1 John 4:7 - 19)"

Each book of the Bible has a summary, a section on how to study that book, and Study the Book Highlights.  There are footnotes when needed and articles interspersed within the book.

This is the King James Version (KJV) translation, which I prefer.  I grew up with the KJV Bible and my first experiences memorizing and studying scripture were with the KJV translation.  This Bible features the words of Christ in red.

This Bible is well made with a dustjacket and cloth cover book.  The text is an average size font - could be a little bigger for ease of reading.

There are some useful sections at the end of the book, including Monies, Weights and Measures, a Concordance, and color maps.  The concordance is detailed and is especially helpful for reading and study.

I recommend the KJV Know the Word Study Bible to anyone who is interested in a closer reading of the Bible.  It is a beautifully made book and will be a big help on your journey.

Giveaway
This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!



One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A Kindle Fire case (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.



I received a copy of this book from Litfuse.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Bullet the Wonder Dog from The Roy Rogers Show

Dear Friends,

Today I would love to introduce Bullet, the Wonder Dog from The Roy Rogers Show.  This western theme TV show ran from 1951 - 1957.   My Momma has never seen this show, so we are learning about it, and Bullet, together.  When we asked friends about favorite TV dogs, Bullet is a name that was mentioned often.

The Roy Rogers Show starred Roy Rogers, his wife Dale Evans, a Palomino horse named Trigger, and Bullet.  The famous theme song from the show was "Happy Trails," sung by Dale Evans.

Bullet was a brave German Shepherd who helped lead Roy and Dale to the bad guys, helped when they were outnumbered, and helped them escape as needed.

Bullet was born in 1949.  He made his movie debut in 1951 in the Roy Rogers movie Spoilers of the Plains.  I have not been able to find out a lot about his life, or how long he lived.  However, after he died he was preserved, along with Trigger, and they were displayed at the Roy Rogers Museum.  They were sold in 2010 to RFD-TV.

Like most other retro TV dogs, Bullet inspired a number of products for children, including children's books:
Comic books:

And a toy by Hartland toys:

Bullet even appeared in commercials for dog food!


Do you remember Bullet, or The Roy Rogers Show?   I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Wishing you a great weekend!

Love,

Abby xoxoxo

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus by David Blixt, Amalia Carosella, Libbie Hawker, Scott Oden, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Russell Whitfield

Book Synopsis
Odysseus, infamous trickster of Troy, vaunted hero of the Greeks, left behind a wake of chaos and despair during his decade long journey home to Ithaca. Lovers and enemies, witches and monsters–no one who tangled with Odysseus emerged unscathed. Some prayed for his return, others, for his destruction. These are their stories…

A beleaguered queen’s gambit for maintaining power unravels as a son plots vengeance.

A tormented siren battles a goddess’s curse and the forces of nature to survive.

An exiled sorceress defies a lustful captain and his greedy crew.

A blinded shepherd swears revenge on the pirate-king who mutilated him.

A beautiful empress binds a shipwrecked sailor to servitude, only to wonder who is serving whom.

A young suitor dreams of love while a returned king conceives a savage retribution.

Six authors bring to life the epic tale of The Odyssey seen through the eyes of its shattered victims—the monsters, witches, lovers, and warriors whose lives were upended by the antics of the “man of many faces.” You may never look upon this timeless epic—and its iconic ancient hero—in quite the same way again.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Chapters


Author Bios
Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). Amalia’s novels include Tamer of Horses, Helen of Sparta, By Helen’s Hand, and Daughter of a Thousand Years.

David Blixt‘s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history.

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, he describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”

Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. Libbie’s recent novels include Daughter of Sand and Stone, Mercer Girls, A Song of War, White Lotus and Persian Rose.

She lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

Russell Whitfield was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey.

Gladiatrix was Russ’s first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.

Scott Oden was born in Indiana, but has spent most of his life shuffling between his home in rural North Alabama, a Hobbit hole in Middle-earth, and some sketchy tavern in the Hyborian Age. He is an avid reader of fantasy and ancient history, a collector of swords, and a player of tabletop role-playing games. When not writing, he can be found walking his two dogs or doting over his lovely wife, Shannon.

Oden’s previous works include the historical fantasy, The Lion of Cairo, and two historical novels, Men of Bronze and Memnon. He is currently working on his next novel.

Vicky Alvear Shecter is the author of multiple books set in the ancient world, including the YA novels, CLEOPATRA’S MOON, based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter, and CURSES AND SMOKE: A NOVEL OF POMPEII and the adult historical collaborations, A SONG OF WAR, A YEAR OF RAVENS, and A DAY OF FIRE. She has written a mid-grade series on mythology (ANUBIS SPEAKS, HADES SPEAKS, and THOR SPEAKS) as well as two award-winning biographies for kids. She a She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta.

Giveaway
Win a copy of Sea of Sorry.  Giveaway ends November 17.
A Sea of Sorrow 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - Murder on the Toy Town Express: A Vintage Toyshop Mystery by Barbara Early

Book Synopsis
Liz McCall has come to love running her father’s vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she’s all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong.

What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she’s shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target.

The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early’s delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.

My Review
Murder on the Toy Town Express is a fun read for cozy mystery fans, and anyone who loves retro toys will especially enjoy it.  I love all things retro, including vintage toys, and sometimes sell a few vintage toys in my online shop, so I especially enjoyed this book.

Liz works with her father in his vintage toy store in East Aurora, New York.  When they work a vintage toy show, she is shocked when her high school bully, now a comic book dealer, dies suddenly.  With the help of her father, friends, and semi-boyfriend, Ken (who also is police chief) she becomes involved in working to solve the crime.

This was such a fun read!  I couldn't put it down.  The characters are quirky, interesting, and likable.  And there are twists and then more twists.  I am usually pretty good at solving mysteries but did not have this one figured out until I was about 75% in!

This is the second book in the Vintage Toyshop Mystery series.  I have not read the first (yet!), but this book worked fine as a standalone mystery.

I loved, loved, loved the vintage toy details in this book.  As well as great details about model trains, there are mentions of toys like The Addams Family Card Game, The  Beatles: Flip Your Wig Game, Candy Land, Life, Lite-Brite, and more.  At one point the characters have a 1970's games night featuring Yahtzee, Risk, Clue, Mousetrap, Rebound, Which Witch, Sub Search, and Manhunt.  The party was complete even with '70's candies:  Good & Plenty, Milk Duds, Necco Wafers, Chuckles, and Sky Bars.

I enthusiastically recommend Murder on the Toy Town Express to other cozy fans.  It makes a great weekend read, and it is really fun!

Author Bio
Barbara Early earned an engineering degree, but after four years of doing nothing but math, developed a sudden allergy to the subject and decided to choose another occupation. Before she settled on murdering fictional people, she was a secretary, a school teacher, a pastor’s wife, and an amateur puppeteer. After several years living elsewhere, she and her husband moved back to her native Western New York State, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, classic movies and campy seventies television, board games, and posting pictures of her four cats on Facebook. She writes the Vintage Toyshop series and the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen).

Author Links
http://www.barbaraearly.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraEarly/
https://twitter.com/BarbEarly
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1671291.Barbara_Early
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cUh3Wn
Cozy Café: https://www.facebook.com/CozyCafeMysteries/
Killer Characters: http://www.killercharacters.com/search/label/Barbara%20Early 

Purchase Links
Amazon     B&N   BAM    INDIEBOUND    Book Depository

GIVEAWAYS
There are two (!) giveaways on this book tour.

Giveaway #1
Book swag!  Prize is a brightly colored vintage toyshop tote bag, key ring, train whistle, bookmarks, and assorted fun Toyshop swag (color and selection will vary).   U.S. Only.   Ends 10/23.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #2
Prize includes signed copies of MURDER ON THE TOY TOWN EXPRESS (hardcover) and DEATH OF A TOY SOLDIER (paperback), a Vintage Toyshop tote bag, keyring, booksmarks, and assorted fun toyshop swag. U.S. Only.  Ends 10/19.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Wishbone

Dear Friends,

Today I am looking forward to chatting about famous TV dog Wishbone.   When I asked friends on Facebook for famous dogs, several people said Wishbone.  This cute TV dog is new to me (because I wasn't born when his show was on!) and also to my Momma (who was a child quite a while before Wishbone aired on PBS).

Wishbone was a PBS series that aired from 1995 - 1998.  It starred a lovable Jack Russell named Wishbone and his person, Joe.  Wishbone loves books and dreams about appearing in stories from classic literature.  As well as a TV series, there was a popular series of books starring Wishbone.

To give you an idea of what the show storylines were like, there were books featured by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, and more.   Wishbone also played Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle in more than one episode.

The series was created by a Jack Russell fan named Rick Duffield.  His own dog inspired the Wishbone character.

Wishbone was played by a handsome Jack Russell dog named Soccer.   I have to add that I am partial to Jack Russells as I am a Doxie-Jack or Jackshund (Dachshund - Jack Russell mix)!   Soccer lived from 1988 - 2001.  He was from Texas and lived with his person and trainer, Jackie Martin Kaplan.  Soccer got the part because he did an impressive backflip in his audition.   When Soccer wasn't available, there were four other Jack Russells who sometimes appeared as Wishbone.  Phoebe, Slugger, and Shiner did stunts, and Bear did publicity stills.

Here is a short video showing the opening to the Wishbone show in the 1990's.


Have you seen Wishbone, and do you have any memories of this show?  I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Wishing you a great weekend!

Love,
Abby xoxoxo

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by Kathleen Ernst

Book Synopsis
Chloe Ellefson is excited to be learning about Wisconsin’s Cornish immigrants and mining history while on temporary assignment at Pendarvis, a historic site in charming Mineral Point. But when her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, discovers long-buried human remains in the root cellar of an old Cornish cottage, Chloe reluctantly agrees to mine the historical record for answers.

She soon finds herself in the center of a heated and deadly controversy that threatens to close Pendarvis. While struggling to help the historic site, Chloe must unearth dark secrets, past and present . . . before a killer comes to bury her.

Author Bio
Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.

Webpage – www.kathleenernst.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kathleenernst.author/
Blog – https://sitesandstories.wordpress.com

Purchase Links

AmazonB&N 

Giveaway
(3) Print Copy - Mining for Justice (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by Kathleen Ernst.  Ends 10/19.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - The Case of the Clobbered Cad (Nosy Parkers Mysteries) by Debra E. Marvin

Book Synopsis
Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls’ Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until…

Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again.

As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.

Author Bio
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction, and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.

Author Links:
Twitter,
Facebook,
Website,
Pinterest
Amazon Author Page
Instagram

Buy Links
Amazon  B&N  kobo

Giveaway
(1) Prize Package Including Paperback of The Case of the Clobbered Cad --Paperback of The Counterfeit Clue --Hardcover of The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes (Nancy Drew)-- and a hand quilted table runner in shades of green.  Ends 10/23.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Book Review - Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Book Synopsis

In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.



 

Purchase Links


HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 
My Review
Like most young girls, I grew up with Little House on the Prairie.  First came the books, checked out time and again from the little local library.  Then there was the TV series.  I loved everything about Little House, and this love of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder has endured into my adulthood.  I still listen to three Little House podcasts and read everything I can find that is related to this series.

So of course I wanted to read Caroline.  From the first description of this book, I anticipated reading it.  And I have to say the book far exceeded my expectations.  It is amazing!

Caroline tells the Little House story from the perspective of Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother, Caroline.  When we first glimpse Caroline in this novel, she is a young wife and mother living in Wisconsin with her beloved husband Charles and her little girls, Mary and Laura.  She is pregnant with her third child when Charles tells her he wants to move to Kansas.

Caroline bravely puts aside her personal feelings and travels across the country in a covered wagon.  The descriptions of the journey are so vivid and detailed.  I could visualize everything from the storytelling.

I will admit that I grew up focusing on Laura's story, and had not thought as much about what this journey and pioneer life meant to Caroline.  I am so glad that Sarah Miller masterfully brought her story to life here.  I found Caroline so remarkable as she left her relatives and friends behind and braved this long trip despite being pregnant.   I admired her resourcefulness and her loving care of her children.  I also loved her relationship with Charles!

The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful. Sarah Miller writes about the journey:

"The West was a song Charles wanted a hand in composing" (eBook loc. 100).


She also adds about Laura:

"Like her pa, all of Laura's visions of the West had begun with the journey, not the departure" (eBook loc. 353-54).

One more example of the beautiful writing in this book is seen when Caroline soothes the girls en route:

"Under her fingers, Laura's pulse had slowly quieted into a beat of feathery kisses.  Caroline drew up her knees, making a nest of herself.  Laura was too big now to fit inside it as she once had, but her breath, still tinted with maple sugar, filled the small spaces between them" (eBook loc. 821-23).

I have to add that the historical details in this book were fascinating.  I enjoyed details like reading how Caroline cooked over a fire when the family was traveling cross country.  The food descriptions were also very interesting, and I was very struck by how grateful the Ingalls family was for such simple things.  This was one of the things that stuck with me most from Caroline's story.

Caroline will surely be one of my favorite reads of the year, and I recommend it highly for anyone who loves children's literature, historical fiction, and especially for other Little House on the Prairie fans.

Author Bio
Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as “a historical version of Law & Order.” She lives in Michigan.

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Scooby Doo

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!  

Today I would love to chat about one of my favorite TV dogs -- Scooby Doo.  Scooby Doo was a Great Dane who appeared in the Scooby Doo cartoon series as well as several movies.  The cartoons first ran on CBS (1969 - 1975):  Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and The New Scooby Doo Movies.  Later there were a number of Scooby Doo cartoons on ABC (1976 - 1991).  The original cartoons were created by Hanna-Barbera.

Scooby Doo helped his teenage friends solve mysteries.  The human members of Mystery, Inc. were Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne.  Scooby spoke - and he sounded a lot like Astro from The Jetsons.  That is not a coincidence -- Scooby Doo and Astro were both voiced by actor Don Messick.  Scooby is often hungry and gets scared easily - just like his human buddy, Shaggy.

Of course, Scooby inspired lots of merchandise, like lunch boxes:

Comic books:

Toys, like this View-Master reel:


A few fun tidbits of Scooby Doo trivia:


  • When the show was in the planning stages, the dog was originally a Sheepdog named Too Much.
  • Scooby Doo's full name is Scoobert "Scooby" Doo.
  • Scooby Doo's nickname came from a line in the Frank Sinatra song "Strangers in the Night."
  • Scooby's catch phrase is "Scooby Dooby Doo!"
  • Scooby has a nephew named Scrappy Doo.
Scrappy Doo

Here is the opening of the Scooby Doo cartoon (1970).

Do you remember Scooby Doo?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Love,
Abby xoxoxo

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review - The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

Book Synopsis
Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right. 

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May. 

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”


 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review
One of the first chapter books I ever read was Little Women.  My copy was a Whitman Book, and I remember the joy of reading about the March family, and especially Jo, who was always one of my favorite heroines.  Little Women has always held a special place in my heart (and my bookshelf!), so I was thrilled to have a chance to read The Other Alcott.

The Other Alcott tells the story of Louisa May Alcott's younger sister May, who was the inspiration for Amy in Little Women.  May wants to be more than just "the other Alcott."  She wants to travel, to study art, and make a living as an artist -- at a time when this was not a likely career for women.

I found the relationship between Louisa and May fascinating.  Initially I was most interested in the glimpses of Louisa in this book, but as I went on I became interested in May's story too.

That said, I have to share this intriguing passage with other fans of Little Women.  Louisa is writing to May:

"I don't see how Mr. Niles expects me to spin 400 more pages of this 'Little Women' hokum, but I suppose I must.  He vexes me to no end with all his suggested titles - 'Wedding Marches' is the latest stupidity. ... I'll keep writing what they want.  But I'll be getting the last laugh -- I've given into perversity and have made a quirky husband for Jo March" (p. 40).

May travels from her family home to Boston to study art, and later to Europe.  I found her life and studies fascinating.  She struggles to find her own way as an artist, and also to be taken seriously because she was a woman.  In one memorable scene she goes to a life drawing session attended only by other men who heckle her and tease her until she takes up her charcoal and just ignores them, drawing the man posing in front of the group.

There are mentions of some memorable names in art history:  John Ruskin, J.M.W. Turner, William Morris Hunt, Thomas Eakins.  I found the historical details of art and life 1868 - 1880 fascinating.

The author's style of writing and descriptions in this novel are lovely.  For instance:

"She had arrived back in Concord to find the town fully ripened with summer.  Strawberries the size of May's thumb hung off bushes at the side of the road.  The cucumber vines dragged the ground under the heft of gigantic vegetables.  Lush greenery swathed the yard.  Yet in the midst of all of this bounty, her family appeared diminished and forlorn" (p. 140).


Most of all, though, the characters, especially May and Louisa, are so beautifully drawn in this novel.  The Other Alcott is sure to interest fans of historical fiction, Louisa May Alcott, art history, or a really well told story.  I recommend it highly.

 
Author Bio
Though a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise Hooper lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she teaches history and literature.
Find out more about Elise 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.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Beware the Orchids (A Shady Acres Mystery) by Cynthia Hickey

Book Synopsis
Ditched at the altar, Shelby Hart tosses down her bouquet, quits her job, and accepts a position as gardener and event coordinator at an upscale retirement community. Her first day on the job results with a dead body in the greenhouse under the orchids and with her as the prime suspect!

Toss in a handsome handyman, quirky characters, and a flirtatious grandma and the fun never stops. 

Author Bio
Multi-published and Amazon and ECPA Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey has sold over a million copies of her works since 2013. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference, several small ACFW chapters and RWA chapters. You can find her on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s best well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs, one cat, and three box turtles. She has eight grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”.

Website at www.cynthiahickey.com
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Hickey/e/B002W1MP2Q/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cynthia-Hickey-151333448227549/
 Twitter: @cynthiahickey 

Purchase Link
Amazon

Giveaway
Kindle Fire 7 HD.  Giveaway ends 10/4.  (U.S. only.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway