Friday, November 16, 2018

Dear Abby - Thankful

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to pause and say THANK YOU to everyone who reads my weekly Dear Abby posts.  I appreciate your comments and your friendship, and am grateful to have come to know so many kind and thoughtful people through this blog.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I am grateful too for a happy life as a rescued dog, for a warm, safe place to sleep, and for people who love me (and people I love!).  Especially for Momma, who is my special person.

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!   I will be taking some time off Thanksgiving week, but will return the week after.

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan

Book Synopsis
In Holland 1633, a woman’s ambition has no place.

Judith is a painter, dodging the law and whispers of murder to become the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artist’s guild. Maria is a Catholic in a country where the faith is banned, hoping to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic.

Both women’s destinies will be shaped by their ambitions, running counter to the city’s most powerful men, whose own plans spell disaster. A vivid portrait of a remarkable artist, A Light of Her Own is a richly-woven story of grit against the backdrop of Rembrandt and an uncompromising religion.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


My Review

A Light of Her Own tells the story of Judith Leyster and Maria de Grebber.  Both women were painters in 1600's Holland.  Judith was driven to paint, driven to succeed, while Maria was more interested in religion and spirituality.  This novel explores their lives independently and also their friendship.


Before reading this novel, I knew very little about life in Holland during this period.  The author, Carrie Callaghan, did an amazing job of evoking the time and place.   The descriptions of walking through town, life at home, and especially life in the artist's studio were absolutely fascinating.


I also was not familiar with Judith Leyster and her role in the Dutch Golden Age of art.  I spent some time looking up her paintings after reading this book, and am grateful that I learned more about her life and work through reading A Light of Her Own.


The book started a bit slowly for me, but I soon was engrossed in the lives of these women -- especially Judith, with her painting, her struggle to succeed in a world of men, and her unusual (for a woman) acceptance into the Haarlem artist's guild. 


Carrie Callaghan has a painterly way with descriptions, and I found many of the descriptions of daily life and the artistic process to be vivid and fascinating.  For example, Judith carries buttons for a future painting in her pocket:

"She reached into her pocket, the pouch hung from her waist, and took out a handful of buttons.  It was a habit of hers to carry around the components of a painting so she could consider them, learn their curves and their secrets, whenever she had a free moment" (chapter 3, location 259).


I recommend this novel for readers of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in art history.

Author Bio

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook,  Twitter and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 signed hardcovers of A Light of Her Own! To enter, please see the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US 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.  
A Light of Her Own
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

Book Synopsis

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.


Available on Amazon


Author Bio

Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Holiday By Gaslight!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.  

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US 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.
A Holiday By Gaslight

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - The Killer Christmas Sweater Club (A Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery) by Terry Ambrose

Book Synopsis
All ten-year-old Alexandra Atwood wants for Christmas is to get her dad and the B&B’s cook Marquetta under the mistletoe. After all, how can they get married if they don’t kiss first?

When murder strikes in Seaside Cove, bed-and-breakfast owner Rick Atwood is asked to help find the killer. But this will not be an easy case to crack. Not only did the killer contaminate the crime scene, but there are suspects all over town. And they all received the same Christmas sweater from the victim.

Alex hears rumors about the murder and decides that since she’s on Christmas break, she has time for a little multitasking. She launches her own investigation even as she continues her efforts to get her dad and Marquetta together.

Just when Rick thinks he’s identified all the suspects, he discovers a new one—his estranged wife. With the days until Christmas ticking down, Rick feels pressured from all sides. He needs to solve the case. He needs to send his wife back to New York. But the one thing he doesn’t need is for his daughter to be one step ahead of him and the cops.

Author Bio
Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who tracked down deadbeats for a living. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He likes cool photography, funny mysteries, and finding the oddest things while walking on the beach. 

Author Links

Purchase LinkAmazon


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