Friday, September 27, 2019

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Delivers Balloons

Hi friends,

Just a super short note today to say "hi."  My Uncle Dave sent me this super short video and I like it so much I've watched it several times.  (My Momma says it is one of the cutest dachshund videos ever.)  The little doxie does such a good job of sharing a balloon surprise.  Of course, I had to share with you!

I hope you are doing well, enjoying some fall weather (none of that here in the south, yet!).  Have a great weekend!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano

Book Synopsis
To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Diamond in the Rough is a historical novel set in 1885, the Gilded Age.  Poppy Garrison was raised on a horse farm in Pennsylvania.  At her family's request, she agrees to spend time in New  York with her grandmother, experiencing a social season.  Because Poppy is not ready for society life, her grandmother talks a brooding Englishman, Reginald Blackburn, into teaching her etiquette and helping her come out in society.  Poppy and Reginald are complete opposites - but somehow they find a tenuous connection.

I was interested in reading Diamond in the Rough because I knew I would enjoy the Gilded Age setting.  I also had not read any novels by Jen Turano, but have heard how much fun her books are.

This novel was a delight from the very start.  It is what I would call rollicking fun.  Poppy is such a character!  She is forthright and impulsive and used to life where she can be active and do as she pleases.  New York society does not come naturally to her.  She finds herself in one predicament after another.  In the first, she finds her tiara caught on a gentleman's sleeve while doing a Quadrille at a ball.  Later, she goes for a carriage ride in Central Park;  the horse takes off at a gallop and Poppy ends up in the lake. 

Reginald is very proper and British and he realizes he has his work cut out for him helping Poppy learn etiquette.  As they work together, they both learn from each other, and of course there are romantic sparks.  However, Reginald has introduced himself as Mr. Blackburn, and has not revealed that he is the son of a Duke, so he has to contend with that as well.

The Gilded Age details are fascinating.  I loved reading about Poppy's daily life, with dances, calling hours, carriage rides, and tea rooms.  I felt bad for her, though, with some of the difficult social conventions, like uncomfortable, binding corsets that she was not used to.

I found Diamond in the Rough an enjoyable and thoroughly unique book.   It has lovely period details, but reads like a historical romantic comedy.  It was a refreshing read, and one that I think other readers will enjoy as well.

Author Bio
Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at


Connect with Jen

Website | Facebook | Twitter

One lucky reader will receive a copy of Diamond in the Rough.  Enter with the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway is open to the U.S. only, and closes Thursday, 10/03/19 at midnight.  Winner will be notified by mail and needs to respond within 48 hours, or a new name will be drawn.  Good luck!

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Lies in White Dresses by Sofia Grant

Book Synopsis
Francie Meeker and Vi Carothers were sold a bill of goods: find a man, marry him in a white wedding gown, and live happily ever after. These best friends never expected to be on the train to Reno, those “lies in white dresses” shattered, their marriages over.

On board the train they meet June Samples, who is fleeing an abusive husband with her daughter, and take the vulnerable young mother under their wing.  The three decide to wait out the required six weeks together, and then they can toss their wedding bands into the Truckee River and start new lives as divorcees.

But as they settle in at the ranch, one shocking moment will change their lives forever. As it brings their deceptions and fears into focus, it will also demand a reckoning with the past, and the choices that a person in love can be driven to make.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Lies in White Dresses begins in 1952.  Longtime best friends Francie Meeker and Vi Carothers are traveling by train to Reno, Nevada to take the "Reno Cure."  They will spend six weeks at a ranch in Reno in order to complete residency requirements for a divorce.  On the train they meet a young single mother, June Samples, with her daughter Patty. June is a financially struggling abused wife, also traveling to Reno for a divorce  As they settle in at the ranch something unexpected happens that changes everything.

I was interested in this book from the time I first read the description.  At first it reminded me of the classic movie The Women, also about women who traveled to Reno for a divorce.  That only made me more curious to read the book!

Lies in White Dresses has a wonderful collection of characters.  I immediately liked Francie and Vi and their long friendship and support of each other.  They are in the same position, headed for divorce, but with different backgrounds -- Vi's husband is a serial cheater, while Francie's husband is a decent man but they are incompatible.   The support characters are also wonderful.  June is such a sweet, genuine young woman who wants a better life but doesn't know how to start.  They meet Willy, who is a bit of a vixen -- with a surprising connection to the women.  

And there is Virgie.  Virgie is the 12 year old daughter of the woman (also a single mother) who owns the ranch.  I have to say that Virgie is my favorite character in any novel I've read this year.  She reads Nancy Drew books and aspires to be a detective.  She's saving money to "attend the Hector Y. Brown Private Detective Academy, which, after two weeks of intensive study, would confer on her an official certificate allowing her to work as a private eye anywhere in the state of California" (p. 14).   Virgie keeps a diary where she sorts out mysteries she encounters in her day to day life.  She is bright and plucky and always looking for a way to have little businesses here and there to make extra money.  And she becomes a hero - although to say more would be a spoiler!

The writing in this book is beautiful.  Sofia Grant does an amazing job at establishing life in 1950's Reno.  I love her descriptions, like the ladies' first glimpse of the Holiday Ranch hotel:

"... The Holiday Ranch hotel was sided with white-washed shingles and trimmed with green shutters with cutouts in the shape of Christmas trees.  Rustic beams hewn from the trunks of enormous trees supported the slate roof, and stripped lodgepole pine logs served as porch posts.  There were wooden rocking chairs and hanging baskets of flowers and a hitching post out front, along with a decorative wishing well.  The western theme continued into the parking lot on the side of the building, which was enclosed by a split-rail fence to which several sets of steer horns and a bleached white cow skull were attached.  On the other side of the hotel was a garden divided by stone walkways and arches blooming with climbing roses, all arranged around a fountain, the water arcing up from an old cattle trough before splashing down into a mossy, rock-lined pool" (p. 29).

I also love the layers of the storytelling. This is a book about women's lives, about women facing adversity and making choices, about friendship.  It is also a novel about the way personal history molds lives, and it is a book about love -- love between friends, between family members, and romantic love.  Some of the passages in this book - especially later on - were just so beautiful and poetic that I would stop and re-read.

I absolutely loved Lies in White Dresses and recommend it highly for fans of historical fiction.  This is a beautifully told and ultimately life affirming novel that is unique among other books I have read in recent years.

Author Bio
Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.

Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Plays Pinball

Dear Friends,

I have a short and sweet share for you today.  

I was surfing the Internet, as I sometimes do on a lazy afternoon, and I found a video of a dachshund playing pinball. Her name is Ellie and she gets very excited about the little silver, fast moving ball in the pinball machine.  I am pretty sure she thinks she will capture that ball for her own!   Ellie is a happy little dog with lots and lots of energy.  (I think she may still be a puppy.)   I showed this to my Momma and she liked it ... so I hope you do too.

This video made me happy and I hope it makes you smile too.

I'll be back next week.  Hope your weekend is wonderful!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Buried in the Stacks: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook

Book Synopsis
Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?
In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?
My Review
Buried in the Stacks is set in small town Connecticut. Carrie Singleton works at a library haunted by a kindly librarian ghost, Evelyn, whom she has befriended.  In this cozy mystery, Carrie faces several issues at once.  The library suddenly has become a daytime refuge for homeless people in the community.  Several library patrons are upset about this and Carrie steps in to find a way to help the homeless people.  In the meantime, her longtime antagonist, Dorothy, the library's reference librarian, dies under mysterious circumstances.  Dorothy was the niece of Carrie's ghostly friend, Evelyn, and Carrie begins to investigate both their deaths -- Dorothy's recent passing and Evelyn's from some years ago.

This book is the third in the Haunted Library Mystery series.  I absolutely love this series of mysteries, and the third volume did not disappoint!

I admire Carrie's sensitivity and compassion as she works to not just solve mysteries but also help others.  Her friendship with the ghostly Evelyn continues to be a strong point in the books.

I also enjoy the small town setting and especially the library locale.  I like Carrie's friends, her boyfriend Dylan, and her cat Smoky Joe.

The mystery was well written and it kept me guessing.  The character development in this series is especially strong, and that makes the mysteries a bit more substantive to me.  The social issue of homelessness was handled with sensitivity in this novel.

I enthusiastically recommend Buried in the Stacks - and the Haunted Library Mystery series - to other cozy fans.  I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

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
My Amazon page:
Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - A Curio Killing (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes

Book Synopsis
Callie finds treble in Keepsake Cove when her ex-boyfriend is framed for murder . . .  

Callie Reed is looking forward to her first Keepsake Cove spring festival. But her excitement dims considerably when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Hank, will be performing with one of the hired country-western bands. Callie vows to keep her distance, but that changes when the band’s manager, Bobby Linville, is found dead, killed with the music box Hank bought at Callie’s shop.

Hank is soon singing a sad tune in a detention center with Callie his only lifeline. Though thoroughly aware of his many faults, she knows violence and murder aren’t in his blood. But that means one of her fellow Keepsake Cove residents must be hiding a dark secret—something Callie desperately needs to uncover. 

My Review
Callie Reed lives in the small town of Keepsake Cove, where she owns a music box shop and sometimes helps solve mysteries!  When her musician ex-boyfriend Hank comes to town, Callie is not glad to see him reappear.  She is even more upset, though, when he is wrongly accused of killing the band's manager.  She decides to help clear Hank's name, even though doing so puts her in jeopardy.

A Curio Killing is book 3 of the Keepsake Cove mystery series.  I really enjoy this series.  I especially love the setting.  As described in the book:

"But she still had plenty to do just readying her music box shop for the influx of new customers expected to flood the streets of the Cove during the spring festival. But that, of course, was the whole point of it— bringing people to the area, some of whom might not yet have discovered Keepsake Cove and its bevy of specialty shops, each featuring a unique type of collectible item. Delia’s Shake It Up! offered a huge variety of collectible salt and pepper shakers. On the other side of Callie’s shop, Karl Eggers’s Carlectibles carried classic and collectible model cars. Then there were Bill and Laurie Hart’s Kids at Heart vintage toy shop, Orlena Martin’s Treasured Boxes, and many, many more. The Cove was a section of the town of Mapleton, which featured the more routine though essential kind of places, such as grocery stores and banks. But Keepsake Cove was a collector’s dream, and more than one shopper had been hooked after a single visit to the area." (Kindle location 67)

The mystery in this novel was interesting.  I liked the glimpses it gave us into Callie's life before Keepsake Cove, and I appreciated her loyalty to her ex-boyfriend Hank, and her determination to clear his name.  There were a number of plausible suspects and the mystery kept me guessing until the end.

Callie took a couple of big risks that had me saying "no!!!" to the book, but I think it is part of her character to leap before thinking at times.

I liked Callie's relationship with Brian (would actually like to read more about their romance) and her friendships with Delia and Lyssa and the other shop owners.

This novel has a leisurely pace that suits the charming small town setting.  It was not a fast read but it is one that I really enjoyed.  I look forward to reading the next book in this series and recommend A Curio Killing (and this entire series) to cozy mystery readers, and especially to anyone who enjoys picturesque small town settings.

Author Bio
Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. The Keepsake Cove series begins with A Fatal Collection and continues with A VINTAGE DEATH and A CURIO KILLING.  

Author Links
Facebook –
Pinterest –
Twitter –
GoodReads –
Purchase Links – Amazon    B&N  Midnight Ink     Mystery Love Company Booksellers    BAM    IndieBound

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Dear Abby - 15 Dachshund Memes

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week in your corner of the world.  It is hot, hot, HOT in my corner of the world!  It has been up into the mid- to upper- 90's this week, and I don't like it a bit.  It certainly shortens outside walk times.  I have been enjoying air conditioning and time indoors.  I also have been going through some of my dachshund memes, and wanted to share with you.  Some of these have been posted in Doxieposse Pals, the Facebook page where I help.  (And yes, you should certainly join us there!)

This dachshund is waiting for an unplanned treat:

And this one is thirsty:

Yes, this is true:

Fritos!  I have heard this before.

 Little happy pills:

This is a nice message:

 The Bounty hunter!  I like that!

 Who could resist:

 As it should be:

 This is a fun one!

 This would be a good motto!

 I am suddenly craving donuts -- not sure why!

 I don't do this but I have heard that it is done.

 I hope this dachshund gets to go to PetSmart after all:

 This is by far my favorite of all.  (My Momma loves it too!)

I hope you enjoyed these!  Wishing you a good weekend and hoping you are already having some cool almost-fall weather.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Book Synopsis
The secrets of those closest to us can be the most dangerous of all.
Months after her husband, Sean, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, physicist Georgie Brennan discovers he lied to her about where he had been going that day. A cryptic notebook, a missing computer, and strange noises under her house soon have her questioning everything she thought she knew.
With her job hanging by a thread, her son struggling to cope with his father’s death, and her four-star general father up for confirmation as the next Secretary of Defense, Georgie quickly finds herself tangled in a political intrigue that has no clear agenda and dozens of likely villains. Only one thing is clear: someone wants her dead too.

The more she digs for the truth, the fewer people she can trust.

Not her friends.

Not her parents.

Maybe not even herself.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson

My Review
Georgie Brennan is a physicist living in the D.C. area with her husband Sean and young son Sam.  When Sean dies in a tragic accident, her life is turned upside down.  Her father is being considered for Secretary of Defense, but she finds herself in danger that she doesn't understand.  She works to solve the mystery before it is too late.

State of Lies is a fast paced thriller.  The jeopardy that Georgie faces is intense and changeable.  I found it an exciting read and stayed up late two nights in a row reading because I couldn't put the book down!

Georgie is an interesting character.  She is a brilliant physicist and uses her deductive skills to solve the mystery she faces.  I know very little about physics, but the analogies and descriptions with physics terms are beautifully worded, and I think readers with a science background will especially appreciate them.  I loved reading passages like:

"I was missing a piece of the puzzle. ... It was like the gap between quantum physics and general relativity.  The first described the smallest particles in the universe while the second explained its vastness.  The problem was, neither could describe the other.  When you tried to join them together, the theories fell apart.  We all kept hoping that someone, somewhere could figure out a way to bridge the two and reconcile both branches of physics.  There had to be a solution.  We just didn't know what it was" (p. 293).

I found the story of Georgie and Sean, as it unfolds after his accident, particularly interesting.  Without giving spoilers, she realized that she didn't know some basic things about the man she married.  For instance,

"So that was the challenge.  How could I unknow the Sean I'd married?  How could I re-see the man I'd once known?  I needed to look, not for clues, but for something obvious.  Something, perhaps, that had been there the whole time" (p. 42). 

There is a political aspect to the mystery in this book, and the political pieces of the puzzle were intriguing;  they brought another level to the story and added extra twists and turns.

I highly recommend State of Lies for fans of well written mysteries and thrillers.  Just set aside some extra time -- this is a book that will keep you up late reading!
Author Bio
Siri Mitchell is the author of 14 novels. She has also written 2 novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri is a big fan of the semi-colon but thinks the Oxford comma is irritatingly redundant.

Connect with Siri

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Review - The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

Book Synopsis
From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .
As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Glass Ocean is a historical novel about the RMS Lusitania.  It tells three stories: Sarah Blake is a writer who makes a Lusitania related find in her family's belongings.  This find sets her off on a search.  Caroline Telfair Hochstetter is a southern belle from Savannah who has married into New York society in the 1910's. She plans to travel on the Lusitania with her husband, only to find her old beau will also be on board.  Tess Fairweather has been talked into a forgery job on the Lusitania by her sister.

I was interested in this book from first mention. I have long been fascinated by stories of ocean travel, but knew only the basics about the Lusitania.

The historical details in this book are rich and detailed.  They encouraged me to read more about the RMS Lusitania and look up photos of the ship online.  The descriptions of the ship in The Glass Ocean were absolutely perfect.

I am amazed at how well the authors pulled off a complex three (!) storyline novel.  The stories intertwine seamlessly.  I noticed several chapters would end on a phrase or theme and then the next chapter would pick up the same phrase or theme.  I thought this was a very clever way to help the interrelated storylines flow together.

The storylines were all very interesting.  Since I originally hail from Savannah, I had a special interest in Caroline's story.  I also loved the mystery in Sarah's story, as she worked with a descendent of a Lusitania survivor, John Langford, to crack a code found on the ship -- a code that may have had something to do with the ship's fate.

I was intrigued by life on board the Lusitania, especially knowing that the ship was in its last days.  I also found Sarah's life in current day England very interesting.  I loved the description of the Langford family folly, an old astronomical observatory converted to a tiny house.

Robert Langford, a passenger on the Lusitania with ties to both Caroline and Tess, has a telling passage:

"People like simple stories.  Good and evil, hero and villain.  We try to mold people into familiar roles, roles we can understand.  The devoted mother, the heartless adulteress, the wastrel, the toady, the patriot - the traitor.  But it's never that simple, is it?" (p. 182)  This passage presents a theme which is played out over the pages of this book in both 1915 and current day storylines.

The Glass Ocean was a fascinating read. I am a long-time fan of Beatriz Williams, but plan to also look for books by Lauren Willig and Karen White in the future.  I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction.  It is a book you will stay up late reading, and think about for days after you close the last page.

Author Bios

About Beatriz Williams
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.
Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Lauren Willig
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several novels. She lives in New York City with her family.
Find out more about Lauren at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About Karen White
Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes Southern women’s fiction. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two Havanese dogs.
Find out more about Karen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks to HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.