Friday, November 8, 2019

Dear Abby - A Love Like No Otter

Dear Friends,

I have a short and sweet post for you today. I would like to thank my friend Jean for sending me a special video.  It is called "A Love Like No Otter" and it is about Gail Fisher, who takes care of otters at the Georgia Aquarium, and who really loves the otters! 

There is a special story on the video about Cruz, an orphaned sea otter who was rescued.  I love the way he holds paws with Gina, and he even gives kisses.  (Just like a dog!)

You'll find this wonderful video below.  It is just over 5 minutes and I bet it will make you smile.



The photo at the top of this post is of the otters at the Georgia Aquarium. I haven't been there, but my Momma has and she says it is an amazing place.

More next week - hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Love,
Abby xoxoxo
 

Book Review - The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott

Book Synopsis
In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I.

1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie believes he might still be alive.

Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis was wounded. He was certain it was a fatal wound—that he saw his brother die—but as time passes, Harry begins questioning his memory of what happened. Could Francis, like many soldiers, merely be lost and confused somewhere? Hired by grieving families, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph gravesites. As he travels through battle-scarred France and Belgium gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence of Francis.

When Edie receives a mysterious photograph of Francis, she is more convinced than ever he might still be alive. And so, she embarks on a journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone? And if he isn’t, then why hasn’t he come home?

As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover.

Artful and incredibly moving, The Poppy Wife tells the unforgettable story of the soldiers lost amid the chaos and ruins, and those who were desperate to find them.


 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review
The Poppy Wife is the story of lives torn apart by World War I. Francis, Harry, and Will are British brothers who go to war. Will is killed in action. Francis and Harry are in love with the same woman (although Francis married her).  Francis is presumed killed, but his body is not found.  Harry returns from war, a broken man.  Edie is Francis's wife, left in limbo wondering what happened to him.  One day she gets a photograph in the mail that looks like an older version of her husband.  She goes off to France searching for answers, traveling a path that crisscrosses with the one Harry is traveling as he photographs gravesites for families.

I wanted to read this novel because the subject matter is so intriguing.  I have read historical fiction about World War I, but never a book focusing on stories like the one of Francis in this book.

This is absolutely the most beautifully told, heartbreaking book.  The imagery is extraordinary.  I was struck, over and over, by the images of Harry traveling through France, photographing gravesites and places that soldiers last visited for their families.  On his travels he befriends Rachel, a woman whose husband is also presumed killed - and who desperately seeks answers.  He also befriends Gabriel, a stonemason and former soldier who is working on a war memorial.

And then there is Edie.  She is a fascinating character, looking for answers and at the same time scared at what she can find.  Even before he went missing, her husband was distant and changed.  She is drawn to Harry and confused about her feelings.

The book is told in short chapters, some from Edie's viewpoint, and some from Harry's.  The chapters begin with a location heading - locales through France and Great Britain.

The descriptions in this book are breathtaking.  For instance, Edie wakes up in Arras, France:

"The morning light is creeping across the rooftops.  Once upon a time this skyline would have been spiked with belfries and church steeples, but today the towers have all come down and the roofline is tattered.  The white shape of the cathedral is like a ghost of a building.  Smoke starts to rise from the chimney opposite Edie's window and a flight of starlings streaks along the street below and then wheels above.  She envies the birds the lift of their wings as she turns away" (p. 85).

I was so engrossed in this book that I felt like time stopped while I was reading.  I literally could not put it down.  I have been thinking of it since. 

I cannot recommend The Poppy Wife highly enough for fans of historical fiction. This book is sure to be one of my favorite reads of 2019, and I think it will top many other lists as well.
 

Author Bio
Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history, with a PhD from Durham University. Born in the UK, Caroline currently resides in France. The Poppy Wife is partially inspired by her family history.

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Tell Me No Lies: A Lady Dunbridge Novel by Shelley Noble

Book Synopsis
Miss Fisher meets Downton Abbey in Tell Me No Lies, part of the critically acclaimed Lady Dunbridge Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble. 

Rise and shine, Countess, you’re about to have a visitor. 

Lady Dunbridge was not about to let a little thing like the death of her husband ruin her social life. She’s come to New York City, ready to take the dazzling world of Gilded Age Manhattan by storm. The social events of the summer have been amusing but Lady Phil is searching for more excitement—and she finds it, when an early morning visitor arrives, begging for her help. After all, Lady Phil has been known to be useful in a crisis. Especially when the crisis involves the untimely death of a handsome young business tycoon. 

His death could send another financial panic through Wall Street and beyond. 

With the elegant Plaza Hotel, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the opulent mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast as the backdrop, romance, murder, and scandals abound. Someone simply must do something. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

My Review
Lady Phil Dundridge is a British countess living in New York during the Gilded Age. She is clever, worldly - and a gifted amateur detective. When a young society man is killed and stuffed down a laundry chute, Phil becomes involved in solving the mystery.

I wanted to read this book from the description that compared it to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and Downton Abbey. It certainly did not disappoint!  I absolutely loved the beautiful glimpse of Gilded Age New York. The period details were perfection, down to the smallest nuances of language.

Tell Me No Lies is the second book in the Lady Dundridge mystery series. I have not (yet) read the first book, but had no problem enjoying this book as a standalone read.

Phil is a fascinating character - very witty and bright, able to work well with society friends as well as the police detective working on the case.  She is assisted by her lady's maid and butler, and in their spare time they even study books on detection!

This was a complex, sophisticated mystery with a large cast of characters. I would find a cast of characters page helpful in keeping track of family/society relationships.  The mystery was well written and kept me guessing until the resolution.

There is an intriguing sub-plot about Lady Phil's relationship with Mr. X - a mystery man who appears and disappears, always in disguise, with mystery clues and romance. Even Phil does not know his true identity.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tell Me No Lies and would recommend it highly for fans of historical mysteries.  I look forward to continuing the series and going back to read the first book as well.


Author Bio
Shelley Noble is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. (Beach Colors, Whisper Beach, Lighthouse Beach.) And the author of the Lady Dunbridge Gilded Age  Manhattan mysteries. Tell Me No Lies is the latest of the series.

She has written eighteen amateur sleuth and historical mystery novels and novellas as Shelley Freydont. (The Sudoku Murders,  Celebration Bay mysteries, The Gilded Age Newport mysteries.

A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses, vintage carousels, and the past.

Author Links
Website https://www.shelleynoble.com
FB https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyNobleAuthor
Twitter https://twitter.com/ShelleyNoble3
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/shelleynobleauthor/
Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5560617.Shelley_Noble

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKobo

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Three Widows and a Corpse (A Food Blogger Mystery) by Debra Sennefelder

Book Synopsis
Food blogger Hope Early finds one item not on her scavenger hunt list—a dead husband . . . 

Between developing her food blog, Hope at Home, and choosing low-cal recipes for a feature in Cooking Now! magazine, Hope has a full plate. Still, she’s never too busy to compete in a Jefferson, Connecticut, tradition—the town’s annual scavenger hunt. 

But as she races with her team to check off the next item, Hope discovers a grisly surprise—the body of shady real estate developer Lionel Whitcomb, shot in a parking lot. His wife Elaine, who’s also in the hunt, gasps and nearly faints. But two other women on the scene cry out that their husband is dead. 

 It turns out this louse of a spouse was more than a little lax in legally divorcing his former wives. Did one of them put a bullet in the bigamist? Number one suspect and number three wife Elaine begs Hope to investigate. Now Hope is on a new kind of hunt—for a cold-hearted killer and triple widow-maker . . . 

Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Author Bio
Debra Sennefelder, the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series, is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person

Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy. 

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.

Author Links:
Website – Facebook – Goodreads 

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Friday, November 1, 2019

Dear Abby - Otters and Pumpkins

Dear Friends,

Happy November to you!  Although it is after Halloween, I have a few special pictures including jack o' lanterns that I want to share with you.  One of my friends sent me these and I liked them so much I saved them to share with you.  They are all pictures of otters enjoying pumpkins.

I like otters!  They are shaped a lot like dachshunds and are close in size.  I think they are silly to like water so much, but I am glad it makes them happy!

This little otter reaches into a pumpkin. I wonder if he has hidden a treat inside?


An otter going trick or treating!


 Lots of otters and lots of pumpkins:


Only two pumpkins for all those otters!


My favorite -- one otter has made a little pumpkin house.


Here are a few fun facts I learned about otters:

Otters are part of the weasel family.

Some otters spend most of their time in the water, while others like both land and water.

A group of otters can be called a bevy, lodge, romp, or family.  If there is a group in the water they are called a raft.

Baby otters are called pups, kits, or kittens.

Sea otters have the thickest fur of all animals.  It keeps them warm even in very cold water.

Sea otters sometimes hold hands while sleeping in the water so they don't drift apart.

Otters eat 15% - 25% of their body weight in food every single day!  (Now why does that not work for dogs as well?!)

I hope you enjoyed these photos, and wish you a happy November!  Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo 
 


Book Review and Giveaway - The Highlander's Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kelly

Book Synopsis
In bestselling author Vanessa Kelly’s irresistible Clan Kendrick series, Christmas in the Highlands means family, celebration—and for one brother, the beginning of a passionate adventure . . .

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family’s estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can’t be so easily outrun . . .

Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster—not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she’s known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son’s life, just in time for Christmas. But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat—and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


My Review
The Highlander's Christmas Bride is the story of Donella Haddon and Logan Kendrick.  Donella has been asked to leave the abbey where she had hoped to spend her life as a nun.  Logan is sent by her family to help her safely travel home.  Sparks fly as they get acquainted - although they seem unlikely as a romantic couple.

I wanted to read this novel because of the Regency period and Scottish setting.  Both elements were important parts of the novel, especially as Regency propriety met the wild Scottish countryside. 

I enjoyed Donella as a protagonist. She is independent for the times and looking for her place in the world after leaving the convent:

"It was perplexing, because she used to be good at things, whether it was managing a large household, helping the local vicar in his charitable work, or excelling at her studies and music.  These days she seemed to be stumbling about in the dark without a clue to do next" (p. 21).

Logan is also at a crossroads.  His wife passed away, leaving him with a young son to raise.  

Although Donella, the former nun, and Logan, the Scotsman adventurer, appear different on the surface, they find a place of real connection.  This makes their story particularly enjoyable to read.

I especially enjoyed their adventurous trip from the convent to Donella's home -- set with danger and some comical subterfuge as Donella masquerades as a young man.

This is my first read in the Clan Kendrick series.  It worked fine as a standalone, although I would enjoy going back to catch up with the first book in the series.  

I recommend The Highlander's Christmas Bride for fans of historical romance, and especially for anyone who enjoys a Scottish setting.  It is a fun read!


Author Bio
Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated in a number of contests, and she has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her books have been published in nine languages.

Vanessa’s latest book, The Highlander Who Protected Me, was a USA Today, Barnes & Noble, and BookScan bestseller. Her Renegade Royals Series was a national bestseller, as was The Improper Princesses Series. My Fair Princess was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month and is a USA Today and BookScan bestseller. The Highlander’s Princess Bride, book 3 in the series, was a Barnes and Noble top 50 bestseller.

When she’s not dreaming of plots for her next Regency novel, Vanessa is writing USA Today Bestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.
You can find Vanessa at vanessakellyauthor.com or at vksykes.com. For all of Vanessa’s latest news and contests–and to receive a free story–please sign up for her newsletter on her website.

 

Clan Kendrick Facebook Group | Facebook Author Page | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads


Giveaway
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away signed copies of THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE and THE HIGHLANDER WHO PROTECTED ME + a $20 Amazon gift card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. 

The Highlander's Christmas Bride


Book Spotlight and Giveaway - A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews

Book Synopsis
The mysterious Alex Archer returns to England in Book 3 of Mimi Matthews’ USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

She Needed A Husband…

It’s been three years since Laura Hayes’s father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family’s failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite.

He Wanted a Fortune…

Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He’s returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it’s all the fault of Laura Hayes–a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting.

From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain, finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?

 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

 

Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) 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.

 

Giveaway 

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed paperback copy of A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.  

 

Giveaway Rules 

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 

– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. 

– Only one entry per household. 

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 

– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. 

A Convenient Fiction