Friday, September 28, 2018

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshunds and Ducks

Dear Friends,

By chance I found a video this week of a dachshund who is friends with some little ducklings. This lead me to even more dachshund and duck videos! I have never met a duck, but I think I would like to. (I have peacefully met a rabbit before.)

Here are a few happy little videos for you. The first is a dachshund cuddling with some ducklings.


Here is another video of the same dachshund taking a bath in the tub with her duckling friends!

A dachshund named Tess plays with her full grown duck friend:

The last video features a dachshund and three ducks who all want the same watering can.   The dachshund listens to her person who calls him away ... so the ducks get the watering can back!

Has your dog ever met a duck or another wild animal?   Does he or she have any unusual friends?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Have a wonderful day!


Abby xoxoxo

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - In Cold Chocolate: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery by Dorothy St. James

Book Synopsis
In Dorothy St. James’s third delectable Southern Chocolate Shop mystery, a new batch of chocolate and troubles of the heart cause a string of disasters for the Chocolate Box’s new owner, Charity Penn.

The vintage seaside town of Camellia Beach, South Carolina seems like the perfect place for romance with its quiet beach and its decadent chocolate shop that serves the world’s richest dark chocolates. The Chocolate Box’s owner, Charity Penn, falls even further under the island’s moonlit spell as she joins Althea Bays and the rest of the turtle watch team to witness a new generation of baby sea turtles hatch and make their way into the wide ocean.

Before the babies arrive, gunshots ring out in the night. Cassidy Jones, the local Casanova, is found dead in the sand with his lover Jody Dalton—the same woman who has vowed to destroy the Chocolate Box—holding the gun. It’s an obvious crime of passion, or so everyone believes. But when Jody’s young son pleads with Penn to bring his mother back to him, she can’t say no. She dives headfirst into a chocolate swirl of truth and lies, and must pick through an assortment of likely (and sometimes unsavory) suspects before it’s too late for Penn and for those she loves in Dorothy St. James’s third rich installment of the Southern Chocolate Shop mysteries, In Cold Chocolate.

My Review
Penn (Charity Penn) is managing her shop, The Chocolate Box on Camellia Island, SC when she becomes involved in a mystery.  A man is shot on the beach, turtle eggs go missing, and her new turtle shape chocolates also disappear.  Penn determines to solve all three mysteries.

In Cold Chocolate is my first read in the Chocolate Shop Mystery series.  It took me a few chapters to sort out the characters, but by that time I was thoroughly engrossed in the mystery and enjoying the book as a standalone read.  (Note:  I did purchase and download the first two books for Kindle tonight.  I have to read them!)

There is so much I loved about this book.  First, I loved the setting.  I spent my early years in Savannah and loved the Lowcountry South Carolina beach setting.

I found the sea turtle storyline in this novel fascinating!  The author provided a wealth of interesting details about how sea turtles lay eggs and hatch, and I really enjoyed learning as I read.

The chocolate making details in this book were also interesting.  There were even recipes included in the back of the book!  I love benne wafers and want to try that recipe.

I also am a dog lover and enjoyed all the scenes with Stella.  She is a dog with a very quirky but lovable personality!

Penn is a likable, relatable character.  I enjoyed the way she balanced her work at the Chocolate Box, her amateur detective search, her friendships, and her budding romance with Harley.  

I liked the layers of the mystery -- the murder, the sea turtle eggs, and the missing chocolates storyline.  I figured the murderer's identity out early on, but enjoyed reading the way that Penn solved the mystery in the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed In Cold Chocolate and recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries, especially anyone who loves Southern beach settings, animals and nature, or food and cooking.  You are in for a treat with this novel!
Author Bio
Mystery author Dorothy St. James was raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, a neurotic dog, and a fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshunds Join a Sausage Walk in London

Dear Friends,

I'm on the run, so I'll be short (no pun intended!) and sweet today.   I wanted to share a video I found.  It makes me very happy!  This video shows a huge dachshund meet up for a sausage dog walk in London.  There are hundreds of doxies who joined in -- all ages, coats, colors, and sizes from mini to standard.   I really loved this and thought you would enjoy it too.   (I especially like the jeans jacket that one of the doxies is wearing!)

If you have a dog has he or she ever attended a big dog gathering?   How did that go?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments.


Abby xoxoxo

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Review - Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

Book Synopsis
An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden. 

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

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My Review
Formula of Deception tells the story Murphy Anderson, an artist who has changed her appearance and name and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, after her sister was murdered.  Murphy unexpectedly slips into work as a forensic artist with the local police department.  She becomes involved in a mysterious case involving a remote World War II Quonset hut in Alaska.  And then she learns that her sister's killer is on the loose.

I was intrigued by this novel from the start.  The World War II period mystery in the story and the Alaska setting made me want to read the book.

This is such a fast paced and suspenseful novel!  I began reading Saturday evening and finished Sunday afternoon because I could not let the book go until I knew what happened.

Murphy is a fascinating character.  I like the way Carrie Stuart Parks introduced more details about Murphy bit by bit, including some real surprises.

The pacing of Formula of Deception is exceptional.   It is so fast paced.  I am usually a leisurely reader who reads an hour or so at bedtime.  This is a novel that demands more.

I'm glad the author included a family tree at the beginning of the book.  I bookmarked it and referred several times to the character history in that tree.   

I have never read about the work of a forensic artist before and found that aspect of the novel unusually interesting.  The author has a background as a forensic artist, and the details of this work were fascinating.

There are many twists and turns in this novel as the story of the World War II era mystery, the current day implications of those events, and the murder of Murphy's sister all unfold.  Every time I thought I knew the answer there was another surprise.  The ending denouement was so unexpected!

I highly recommend Formula of Deception for fans of fast paced, exciting mysteries, and especially for anyone interested in Alaskan life.

Author Bio
Carrie Stuart Parks is an ECPA Christy Award and multiple ACFW Carol and Inspy Award–winning author. An internationally known forensic artist, Carrie draws on her extensive experience with actual criminal investigations to write authentic, true-to-life fictional suspense. Carrie lives in Idaho and travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada, teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. She has won numerous awards for her fine art and is the author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting., Facebook: CarrieStuartParksAuthor, Twitter: @CarrieParks.


Connect with Carrie

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book Review - Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Coloring Book By Thomas Nelson Gift Books

Book Synopsis
If you rush to Starbucks at the first hint of cool weather . . . If Pumpkin Spice Latte is your fall drink of choice . . . If you need a way to recover from a busy summer and take a breath before a busy holiday season, this book is for you. Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Coloring Book includes gorgeous illustrations featuring your favorite images of autumn. This one-of-a-kind adult coloring book has classic fall quotes, fun sayings, and Bible verses featured alongside detailed coloring pages. 

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Coloring Book offers hours of enjoyment and reflection and makes the perfect gift for anyone who loves fall. 

So settle in by a crackling fire for an evening of relaxation, rest, and pumpkin spice! 

My Review
I was interested in this adult coloring book from just hearing the title alone.  I love fall, love all things pumpkin spice, and find coloring very relaxing!

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice surpassed my expectations.  This is a big book (10" x 10").  The pages are thick and suitable for coloring with pencil or markers.  I colored a page with markers and there was no "bleed through" on the other side of the page.

The pages are also perforated so you can remove them to frame or display.  

The illustrations in this book are by Julianne St. Clair and her designs are really lovely.   There are 90 designs to color.  Some are quotes or Bible verses.   There are some very intricate patterns to color and there are also some simple pages to color.  I really like the variety of coloring patterns in this book, as it gives a lot of variety.   The quotes and simpler designs are nice to color when time is short.  

My favorite quote about fall is included:  "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers"  (Lucy Maud Montgomery).   Designs in this book include:  pumpkins, fall leaves, Thanksgiving dinner, fresh baked pies, harvest corn, mittens, campfire, farm, hayride, fireplace, apples, warm mugs with cocoa (or maybe pumpkin spice latte!), and more.

As always, I find coloring to be very relaxing and pleasant.  I especially enjoy coloring while listening to favorite music.  Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice is an very well made coloring book, and I look forward to enjoying more coloring in this book through this fall!   

I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dear Abby - Doxieposse Pals

Dear Friends,

I wanted to send you a link to a Facebook page that is near and dear to my heart.  Doxieposse Pals is a gathering of dachshund friends, with fun little daily pictures, cartoons, photos and stories.  You'll find it on Facebook:  Doxieposse Pals.

This group started over the summer as a tribute to our very dear friend, Angela Williams, who maintained the original Doxieposse page.  When Angela passed away suddenly, several of her friends got together to start this tribute page in her honor.  There are several ladies who take turns posting there -- Barbara, Brenda, De, and my momma, Trish.  That is Angela's beloved pup, Gizmo, that you see in the photo for our group, above.  Gizmo and Angela were guests here at my blog several times.  You'll find several of the posts here:  Gizmo visits Dear Abby.

Here are a few glimpses of what you will find at Doxieposse Pals.

These sound like good words to live by:

My buddy Oz enjoying a ray of sunshine:

A little dachshund humor (that pup deserves a trip to PetSmart!):

More dachshund humor, although I don't want to say I definitely agree with this:

My friend Gizmo in his toy basket!

And me cuddling my toys (they are my lovies):

A spoiled dog test.  Hmm, why is this right after the picture of me?!?!

Dachshunds enjoying a sunny day at the pool - ahhh!

My Momma says this may be true:

And, since it is Friday:

 I hope you enjoyed these pictures.  Have a wonderful weekend!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Read and Gone: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook

Book Synopsis:
Twenty million dollars’ worth of missing gems bring Carrie Singleton’s long-lost and larcenous dad back into her life and it’s up to Carrie to clear his name.

A devoted dad is as precious as diamonds, but Carrie Singleton wouldn’t know since her dad Jim’s been on the lam most of her life. In an unusual family reunion, she finds Jim breaking into her cottage in the middle of the night. The fun really starts when he begs her to help him recover his half of a twenty-million-dollar gem heist he pulled off with the local jeweler, Benton Parr. When she refuses, Jim takes off again.

Carrie finds her father again behind bars for the recent murder of Benton Parr. Who made the connection? Unbeknownst to her, Carrie’s boyfriend Dylan, an insurance investigator, has been searching for the gems. Determined to find the jewels herself, she starts examining every facet of Parr’s life. She turns up a treasure trove of suspects, one of whom bashes her on the head as she’s searching the victim’s country cabin.

Retreating to the quiet confines of the library where she works, Carrie watches as Smokey Joe, the resident cat, paws at a hole in the wall. Is he after the library’s ghost Evelyn, or something shinier?

My Review:
Read and Gone is the second book in the Haunted Library Mystery series.  Carrie Singleton works at a small Connecticut library.  She loves her work, has made friends with several coworkers, and even has a ghost friend -- Evelyn, who worked at the library years ago.  When Carrie's father, a reformed jewel thief, returns unexpectedly, her life is up-ended ... especially since her boyfriend is an insurance investigator who specializes in theft cases.   When there is an unexpected murder, Carrie works to solve the mystery.

This is my second read in this series.  I enjoyed both books, Death Overdue and Read and Gone, and look forward to future reads in this series.  The details of Carrie's life unfold in both books, and I would recommend reading them in order.

There is just so much that I enjoyed about this cozy mystery.  I loved the holiday setting, as Carrie and the library staff prepared for Christmas.  I like the continuing romance between Carrie and Dylan;  they are so well matched and their scenes together are great.  I also loved the glimpses of Carrie's family, especially her dad, Jim.

Evelyn continues to be a delightful character.  I have pictured her a bit like Aunt Clara in the Bewitched TV series, popping in as a very properly dressed older lady.  I found the way that Evelyn sent Carrie to visit her senior citizen friend in a nursing home very touching.

And of course I loved that kitty, Smoky Joe.  He even played a part in solving the mystery!

The mystery itself was well plotted and had enough possible suspects to make this a very enjoyable read.  

I highly recommend Read and Gone to fans of cozy mysteries, especially for readers who enjoy holiday mysteries and library settings.

Author Bio:
Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime. 

Author Links
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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Great Escapes Book Tours.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review - Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joane Bischof

Book Synopsis
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

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My Review
In 1890, young widow Aven Norgaard travels from Norway to the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia to live with her late husband's relatives.  Life on Blackbird Mountain is very different from anything she has experienced.   The household consists of three brothers.  The two youngest brothers - very different men - both develop a romantic interest in Aven.  As she settles into life in Appalachia, she also sorts through her feelings about Thor and Haakon.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a unique historical novel set in a small Appalachian community.  The setting is so beautifully described and the book is so immersive.  I found myself thinking about Blackbird Mountain and the people who lived there in between reading times.  

Aven is a wonderfully sympathetic protagonist -- strong, brave, and kind.  It took tremendous courage for her to travel from Norway to an unknown home in Virginia, and to settle in smoothly there.  She is courted by two men in the family.  Haakon is young and impetuous, handsome and charming.  Thor is brooding and strong, with an unfortunate weakness for the hard cider that the Norgaard family produces on their farm.  

Thor is also deaf and mute.  The details of his life and how he communicates (and struggles to communicate at times) were both fascinating and moving.  I especially found his memories of life at a school for the deaf as a young man so sad.  The early school he went to was overseen by Alexander Graham Bell.  Bell did not believe that deaf children should sign at all, and they even had to wear mitts so they would be forced to lip read and speak.

I loved the daily details of life on the mountain -- like the first time Aven tried to swim in the pond on the mountain, the way Aven sewed clothes from fabric found in the farm outbuildings, and cooking on the farm.  

I especially loved the slow courtship between Aven and Thor.  I will admit to a bit of a book crush on Thor.  I loved the way so much of their courtship was written and passed back and forth in notes.  The scenes of Thor learning to dance, despite not hearing music, were amazing.

One of my favorite novels is Christy by Catherine Marshall (set in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, 1910's) and I felt a real kinship between that book and Sons of Blackbird Mountain.  The plots and characters were very different, but there was a similar beauty in the simplicity of mountain life, and a quiet strength from faith.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain is my favorite review read of 2018.  It is such a lovely book, and I am delighted to learn that there will be a sequel.   I cannot recommend this novel highly enough for fans of historical fiction.  It is a joy to live in the world of Blackbird Mountain as you read this book.

Author Bio
A Christy and Carol Award winner, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.


Connect with Joanne

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dear Abby: Back from Summer Break

Dear Friends,

I wanted to pop in and say "hi" and catch up.  I've missed being in touch with you!   I took the entire Summer off with my Momma, but I am back with regular posts again.  I will share a few pics today and catch up with you.

More than anything, I enjoyed lots of time with Momma this summer.  Here I am relaxing on the bed!

And here I am cuddling with some of my lovies.

My friend Elsie came to stay a couple of times.  This is a picture of the two of us in nap mode.  We often sit and lie in the same position!

Summertime means holidays with lots of fireworks.  I don't like loud noises, so I wear my comforting Thundershirt.   (Fans and happy music also helps!)

August 25 was a special day -- my birthday!   I turned 9 this year.   I don't feel a day over 2 though.

Birthdays mean treats!

My buddy Oz and his family sent me this cute card.  I love it!

So you've heard a bit about my summer.  How was YOUR summer?  If you have pets, what do they enjoy about the summer months?

I'm really glad to be back chatting with you and look forward to being in touch this Fall.  I'm looking for some fun posting themes ... I have a few ideas but if you have any dog themes you would like to read about, please let me know in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Abby (now 9 years old!) xoxoxo