Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Hightail It to Kinsey Falls by Gayle Leeson


Book Synopsis
All work and no play make Jade a dull girl.

Jade Burt can do without her grandmother’s meddling in her love life. But when Millie finds an abandoned baby possum, it leads her to Caleb Young. Caleb would be perfect for Jade! When Jade meets Caleb, it’s hard to argue with her grandmother’s choice. Still, Jade is determined to push Caleb away, but his friendship with Millie concerns her. What if he’s a slick con man trying to take advantage of a sweet old lady? Jade needs to figure Caleb out before he breaks her grandmother’s heart…and Jade’s too!
Author Bio
Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series.

I live in Virginia with my family, which includes my own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series! But, never fear, I’m also working on a new cozy mystery series as well. 

Website: http://www.gayleleeson.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GayleTrentandAmandaLee/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GayleTrent
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/gayletrent/pins/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gayletrentleeson/

Purchase Links:
Amazon Kobo Apple

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Spotlight and Cover Reveal - The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

What would you do to possess the most coveted color in the world? The year is 1758, and a headstrong woman artist, 24-year-old Genevieve Planche, is caught up in a high-stakes race to discover the ultimate color, one that threatens to become as deadly as it is lucrative. When Genevieve's mission is complicated by her falling in love with the chemist behind the formula, she discovers the world of blue is filled with ruthless men and women and how high the stakes really are. The story sweeps readers from the worlds of the silk-weaving refugees of London’s Spitalfields and the luxury-obsessed drawing rooms of Grosvenor Square to the porcelain factory of Derby and, finally, magnificent Sevres Porcelain in the shadow of Versailles. And running through it all: the dangerous allure of the color blue.


"Bilyeau’s sumptuous tale of mystery and intrigue transports the reader into the heart of the 18th century porcelain trade—where the price of beauty was death"’ E.M. Powell, author of the Stanton & Barling medieval mystery series.

Praise for Nancy Bilyeau's Fiction

"Bilyeau deftly weaves extensive historical detail throughout, but the real draw of this suspenseful novel is its juicy blend of lust, murder, conspiracy, and betrayal." —Review of The Crown published in Oprah, which made the book a pick of the month.

 "English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau's richly detailed sequel to The Crown." —Parade magazine review of The Chalice

 "The story in The Tapestry is fiction, but it is a sheer joy to have Henry’s court recreated with an eye to the reality of its venality, rather than the trendy Wolf Hall airbrushing of its violence and rapacity. The tone is always modern and light, but with none of the clumsy thigh-slapping faux period language. Bilyeau’s writing is effortless, vivid, gripping and poignant, bringing Tudor England to life with sparkling zest. If you want to see the Reformation from the side of the English people rather than the self-serving court, it is tough to do better than this trilogy." —Review of The Tapestry by Dominic Selwood, published in The Catholic Herald

 "As always, Bilyeau has done her historical homework, bringing the drama, and details of Henry VIII’s court to life. You’re basically watching the rise and fall of Catherine Howard, Thomas Cromwell, Walter Hungerford and Thomas Culpepper through Joanna’s eyes. Her private moments with the king were among my favorites in this book. This a true historical thriller. It’s a Tudor novel full of suspense, intrigue, brutality, and death. It’s a well researched page turner. If you’re looking for an exciting historical read, this will be on your list." —Review of The Tapestry by Sandra Alvarez for Medievalists.net

 “Nancy Bilyeau's passion for history infuses her books and transports us back to the dangerous world of Tudor England. Vivid characters and gripping plots are at the heart of this wonderful trilogy. Warmly recommended!” —Alison Weir, author of The Marriage Game: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth I and many bestsellers

 "Nancy Bilyeau's polished, inventive debut has all the ingredients of the best historical fiction: a broad cast of characters, well-imagined settings, and vivid story-telling... In Joanna Stafford, Bilyeau has given us a memorable character who is prepared to risk her life to save what she most values, while Stafford's desperate search for a lost religious relic will satisfy even the most ardent mystery fans." —Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

Author Bio
Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, DuJour, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. She is currently a regular contributor to Town & Country and the editor of the digital magazine The Big Thrill. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel and an Oprah pick, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013. The third in the trilogy, THE TAPESTRY, was published by Touchstone in 2015. The books have also been published by Orion in the UK and seven other countries.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

For more information, please visit Nancy Bilyeau's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 
 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dear Abby - Linky and Summer Break

Dear Friends,

I am planning to take a Summer break from blogging!   My Momma will post a note here next week, and then we are off for the Summer.  I am hoping for a fun Summer, with lots of sunshine and time to relax.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite links from this year's blog posts with you.

I enjoyed looking at favorite dog movies.  A few of my favorites:
The Ugly Dachshund
Lady and the Tramp
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The Wizard of Oz

Here is a glimpse of an exciting new Dachshund museum in Germany!

If you enjoy vintage dog imagery, you'll find some here:
Vintage Easter cards featuring dogs
Vintage dachshund Valentines

Close up from the Dairy Queen picture above -- that Dachshund is ready for her ice cream (and so am I!).

I hope you enjoy these links, and I hope you have a wonderful Summer!  I look forward to catching up with you again after Labor Day!

Love,

Abby xoxoxo
 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Dear Abby - Favorite Dog Movies: Honorable Mentions

Dear Friends,

I really have enjoyed visiting with you here and talking about dog movies.  It has been fun chatting about these movies, especially some of my personal favorites like One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, and The Ugly Dachshund.

When I started this project, friends sent in many wonderful dog movie suggestions!  I wanted to mention some other movies that were recommended by readers:

Where the Red Fern Grows - sad movie about a boy and two hunting Coonhounds (1961)
Beethoven - a Saint Bernard dog leads to family adventures (1992).
Marley and Me - a couple's life with their Lab, through his whole lifespan (2008).
My Dog Skip - a Jack Russell changes a boy's life in the 1940's (2000).
All Dogs Go to Heaven - a dog casino owner returns to earth from Heaven (1989). 
Turner and Hooch - a police officer inherits a dog.  (1989)
K-9 - comedy about a police officer working with a drug-sniffing dog (1989).
Firehouse Dog - a Hollywood dog is adopted by firefighters (2007).
Rin Tin Tin - series of movies about a brave German Shepherd (1922 - 1947).
Best in Show - comedy set in the dog show world (2000).
Because of Winn Dixie - a lonely girl adopts a dog named Winn Dixie (2005).
Beverly Hills Chihuahua- a spoiled Beverly Hills Chihuahua is lost in Mexico (2008).
The Artist - making a silent movie, featuring a Jack Russell Terrier (2011).
Beginners - a man inherits his father's Jack Russell (2010).

I have seen a few of these movies (Beethoven, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Turner and Hooch, Best in Show, and Beginners).  I still want to see My Dog Skip, Because of Winn Dixie, and The Artist.

Have you seen any of these movies, or do you have other dog movies that you particularly enjoy?

Love,

Abby xoxoxo
 

Book Review - Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

Book Synopsis
Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.


 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


My Review
Becoming the Talbot Sisters is the story of twin sisters Waverly and Charlie.  Although they are twins, they could not be more different.  Waverly has a Food Network show, a handsome husband, and a perfect life - but she wants a baby.  Charlie is single, adventurous, and independent, working for a nonprofit in Budapest.  The sisters come together when their Aunt Mae, who raised them, passes away.  They reconnect after some time apart and Charlie surprisingly offers to be a surrogate mother so Waverly can have the baby she longs for.   This changes their lives immeasurably.

This is such a lovely novel!  The book focuses on both the sisters, their perspectives, and their stories.  I liked Charlie right away.  Waverly seemed a bit too perfect to me at first, but she grew on me as I saw her interacting with Charlie through the book.  I loved the scenes between the sisters.  They were exactly the way I would expect siblings reconnecting to act, and yet the book was also fresh and full of unexpected surprises.

Although Aunt Mae did not appear in the novel, except in the twins' memory, I loved the glimpses we had of her.  I especially loved her homespun wisdom, like "You girls stick close together, you hear?  Family's the only tie that don't break" (p. 44).

I found the scenes in Budapest and Europe fascinating.  The human trafficking storyline was heart wrenching, and I greatly admired Charlie's courage in taking a stand and trying to make a real difference.

Waverly's foodie storyline was also fun to read.  I enjoyed reading about her cooking show and the behind the scenes details.  The food descriptions were amazing, and I have been craving strudel since reading this book!  (I will admit I also am craving butterscotch pudding cups because of the frequent mentions of Waverly's pudding addiction.)

I loved the many twists and turns in this book.  I finished reading it at 2:30 A.M. because I could not put it down!  I had to know what happened.  These were characters I came to care about and I really wanted them to have a happy ending.

Becoming the Talbot Sisters was such a warm and satisfying read.  I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly to fans of women's fiction and anyone who enjoys novels about family relationships.


Author Bio
Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently, Rachel splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children. Rachel enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.

 

Connect with Rachel

Website | Facebook


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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Book Review - Death at the Selig Studios by Frances McNamara

Book Synopsis
The early summer of 1909 finds Emily Cabot eagerly anticipating a relaxing vacation with her family. Before they can depart, however, she receives news that her brother, Alden, has been involved in a shooting death at the Selig Polyscope silent movie studios on Chicago’s northwest side. She races to investigate, along with her friend Detective Henry Whitbread. There they discover a sprawling backlot, complete with ferocious jungle animals and the celluloid cowboys Tom Mix and Bronco Billy. As they dig deeper into the situation, they uncover furtive romantic liaisons between budding movie stars and an attempt by Thomas Edison to maintain his stranglehold over the emerging film industry. Before the intrepid amateur sleuth can clear her brother’s name she faces a serious break with the detective; a struggle with her adolescent daughter, who is obsessed with the filming of the original Wizard of Oz movie; and threats upon her own life.  



Buy from Amazon
Buy from GoodReads

My Review
Emily Cabot, university lecturer who sometimes helps the police solve crimes, is back with a new adventure.   Death at the Selig Studios takes place in Chicago in 1909.  Emily's brother, Alden, has been accused of murder at the early silent movie studio, and she works to find answers and to clear his name.

I have a long time interest in silent movies, and belonged to a wonderful silent film society in my city for several years.  That said, I was not familiar with the Selig Studios in Chicago.   I found the silent film aspect of this novel absolutely fascinating.   I loved the glimpses of filming, especially the early production of The Wizard of Oz.  As an animal lover, I am horrified to learn that animals were actually killed during early movie production, like the lion who was shot while making a jungle adventure movie at Selig.

Frances McNamara writes such a smart, well researched mystery.  Her books are a perfect example of what a good historical mystery should be -- well rounded characters, terrific plot with some unexpected turns, and a wealth of historical detail.

Emily is a wonderfully smart character, and I enjoyed watching her solve the murders in this book.  I also liked more details about her family life, and 1909 Chicago.   

The writing is also a treat.  For instance:

"There were still horse-drawn carriages on the streets but more and more motorcars were taking their place.  The streetcars had been electrified and there were many more women riding them, as young women came to the city for jobs.  Every day, Chicago became more crowded.  I usually felt invigorated by the energy of the city, but, by this time of year, I was worn out.  The summer was for wading in saltwater pools with my children, eating clams and lobsters, and having adventures on boats" (p. 3.).

I really enjoyed Death at the Selig Studios and have already recommended it to friends.  I look forward to future books in the Emily Cabot mystery series!


Author Bio
Frances McNamara grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and recently retired from the University of Chicago. She now divides her time between Boston and Cape Cod.

Emily Cabot Mysteries publication order:
Death at the Fair
Death at Hull House
Death at Pullman
Death at Woods Hole
Death at Chinatown
Death at the Paris Exposition
Death at the Selig Studios


I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Trouble In Glamour Town by S.R. Mallery

Book Synopsis
Murder. Corruption. Romance. Movie stars. A modern day TV shoot ‘em up?

No. It’s 1926 Old Hollywood, and a film producer is gunned down in cold blood. In comes Rosie, a pretty bit-player, who, in spite of her stage-mother’s expectations, just longs to be happy. Silent screen idols Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Lon Chaney, and Rudolph Valentino float in and out, as Los Angeles’ corruption is exposed, the era described, and a chase to find the killer revs up before there’s another hit.

Amazon US | Amazon UK


Author Bio
S.R. Mallery, two-time READERS’ FAVORITE Gold Medal Winner, has been labeled nothing short of ‘eclectic’. She has been a singer, a calligrapher, a quilt designer, and an ESL teacher. As a writer, History is her focus and is woven into her stories with a delicate thread. When people talk about the news of the day, or listen to music, her imagination likens the story to a similar kind of news in the past and is conjuring up scenes between characters she has yet to meet.

S.R. Mallery’s books include The Dolan Girls, Genteel Secrets, Unexpected Gifts, Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads, Tales to Count On, and Trouble in Glamour Town.

For more information, please visit S. R. Mallery’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away four eBooks of Trouble in Glamour Town! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 
Trouble in Glamour Town

 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Dear Abby - Favorite Dog Movies: The Ugly Dachshund

Dear Friends,

I have been excited all week about our movie talk this week.  It is about my favorite movie in the world -- The Ugly Dachshund!  This is also my Momma's favorite live action Disney movie.

The Ugly Dachshund was made in 1966.  It stars Suzanne Pleshette and Dean Jones as a young married couple, Fran and Mark.  Fran loves dachshunds.  She has a beloved dachshund named Danke who has three beautiful puppies:  Heidi, Wilhelmina, and Chloe.  The puppies are born at the vet clinic and there Danke adopts a Great Dane puppy named Brutus, who was rejected by his own mother.

Danke and the puppies all come home.  They settle in -- but as Brutus grows, he thinks he is a dachshund, although he is 150 pounds!   The dachshunds are very fun loving and mischievous and Brutus gets blamed for a few of their adventures.

This is a little bit of a romantic comedy and a little bit of a screwball comedy -- but it is SO MUCH BETTER because it has dachshunds (and a Great Dane!).

I love this movie and highly recommend it to all my dog loving friends!

Trivia:

The movie was based on the 1938 book The Ugly Dachshund by G.B. Stern.  My Momma has read the book and said the movie was much better!

Brutus the Great Dane also appeared in the Disney movie The Swiss Family Robinson.

Suzanne Pleshette's little Yorkshire Terrier, Missy, was jealous of the dog smells she came home with during filming.  She had to shower and change every afternoon before leaving the studio!

Here is the trailer for the movie.  It will make you laugh!



Have you seen The Ugly Dachshund?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


Book Review and Giveaway - Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore

Book Synopsis
On a quiet Philadelphia morning in 1906, a newspaper headline catapults Alma Mitchell back to her past. A federal agent is dead, and the murder suspect is Alma’s childhood friend, Harry Muskrat. Harry—or Asku, as Alma knew him—was the most promising student at the “savage-taming” boarding school run by her father, where Alma was the only white pupil. Created in the wake of the Indian Wars, the Stover School was intended to assimilate the children of neighboring reservations. Instead, it robbed them of everything they’d known—language, customs, even their names—and left a heartbreaking legacy in its wake.
The bright, courageous boy Alma knew could never have murdered anyone. But she barely recognizes the man Asku has become, cold and embittered at being an outcast in the white world and a ghost in his own. Her lawyer husband, Stewart, reluctantly agrees to help defend Asku for Alma’s sake. To do so, Alma must revisit the painful secrets she has kept hidden from everyone—especially Stewart.

Told in compelling narratives that alternate between Alma’s childhood and her present life, Between Earth and Sky is a haunting and complex story of love and loss, as a quest for justice becomes a journey toward understanding and, ultimately, atonement.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 
My Review
Between Earth and Sky begins in 1906 when Alma Mitchell reads in the newspaper that one of her childhood friends has been accused of murder.  Her friend, Asku, is a Native American man who grew up in the school where Alma's parents taught.  The school was designed to teach Native American children to abandon their culture and language and live in the white world.  Alma knows her kind childhood friend could not have committed murder, so she gets the help of her husband, an attorney, and looks for answers.  Her search leads back to her childhood years in the 1880's at the school.

Between Earth and Sky is a unique historical novel.  It takes place in two time periods - 1906 (Alma as an adult) and 1881 - 1891 (Alma's childhood and teen years).  The author does a very good job at delineating the two time periods and painting a vivid picture of both.

I had never heard of the special schools for Native Americans where they were considered "savages" and forced to abandon everything that was special and unique to their culture.  The prejudice they faced was really hard to read about.  When the children first came to the school their hair was cut and styled like white children's, and their clothes and even toys were burned.  They were not allowed to use their own native language and were punished when they did not speak English.

Alma is the only white child at the school.  She becomes close friends with several of the other students, and later, in her teens, becomes involved with one of the young men.   I can't say much more without giving away spoilers, but this is a really tragic story and it illuminates a heartbreaking chapter in American history.

The book is well written.  I cared about Alma, Asku, Tshikwa'set and the struggles that they faced.  Tshikwa'set described the gulf between the cultures well:  "It's not so easy.  Our worlds are like the sky and earth, Azaadiins.  They get very close, but never touch" (p. 207).

Later Asku also talks about the distance between the Native Americans and white people:  "I come from a great and proud people.  . . . We have lived many generations upon this land.  But if it be our destiny to continue, we must merge with the white man and meld to his ways.  Like two forks of the same great river, our destinies lie intertwined.  The course is set.  We cannot uphold the past any more than we can reverse the water's flow" (pp. 210 - 211).

This is a book I really thought about while I was reading and after.  I even looked for more reading material and a history podcast on this topic after I finished the novel.  I really felt for the Native Americans who were educated at this school (and other schools like it) and who lost their identity within their tribe -- but they never felt they fit into the white world either.

Fans of historical fiction, American history, and anyone who is interested in Native American culture will find Between Earth and Sky a fascinating read.

Author Bio
Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. In writing Between Earth and Sky, she has drawn on the experiences of a close relative, a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, who survived an Indian mission school in the 1950s. Between Earth and Sky is Amanda’s first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at www.amandaskenandore.com.

Connect with Amanda

Website| Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway
One lucky reader will win a copy of Between Earth and Sky.  The giveaway ends at midnight on May 11.  The winner will be notified by email and needs to respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Ain't Misbehavin' by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Book Synopsis
In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Why would a strong, upstanding man want to build a future with a shallow, good-time girl like her?

Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper with no intention of settling down. She’s used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down?

Author Bio
With a passion for all things historical, Jennifer Lamont Leo captures readers’ hearts through stories set in times gone by. She is also a copywriter, editor, and journalist. An Illinois native, she holds a deep affection for Chicago and its rich history. Today she writes from the mountains of northern Idaho, where she shares her home with her husband, two cats, and abundant wildlife.

Visit her at A Sparkling Vintage Life and Miss Marjorie’s Jazz Age Journal, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Giveaway 
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two signed copies and two eBooks of Ain't Misbehavin' AND an Ain't Misbehavin' Compact Mirror!  To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.  
Ain't Misbehavin'