Friday, September 18, 2020

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dog Gives His Brother a Hug


Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!  We had a big rain event here this week.  Although we live inland, nowhere near the coast, we got some leftover rain from Hurricane Sally.  It kept me up one night but it moved out quickly!

I have a cute video to share with you this week.  It features two Golden Retriever brothers.  One of them steals the other one's chewy and he gives him a big hug to say he is sorry.  I love that moment!  

You'll find this super short video here:

I hope you enjoyed this little video smile.  I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


 


Book Review and Giveaway - Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron


My Review

Maggie Crozat manages her family's historic bed and breakfast in Pelican, Louisiana.  Some distant relatives visit from Canada, coinciding with Halloween and a spooky local theater production.  When there is a mysterious death in the midst of all this activity, Maggie finds herself a suspect ... and is determined to clear her name.

I wanted to read Murder in the Bayou Boneyard because I have enjoyed the other books in this series. I like the Cajun setting and Maggie's life at the B&B.

This book starts with a list of characters, which I bookmarked and referred to several times while reading. Because there are several storylines that run through this novel, there are a lot of characters!  The cast of characters helped a lot.  (I wish more cozy authors would do this!)

I found a lot to enjoy in this mystery. I like Maggie and her relationship with Bo, her family (especially Gran's wedding planning!), the B&B setting, and the Halloween activities. I also liked learning a bit of Louisana folkore about the rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

There was a lot going on in Murder in the Bayou Boneyard, and the story was a more leisurely read than usual for me as a result. I enjoyed all the storylines and wanted to keep them all straight!

The mystery was well written with several strong suspects. I guessed part but not all of the denouement, and enjoyed solving the mystery along with Maggie.

Murder on the Bayou Boneyard is a fun cozy mystery read (perfect for Halloween and fall!). I recommend it for fans of cozy mysteries, southern settings, and atmospheric mysteries. Readers will do best to start with the first book in the series and read through, as the story builds from book to book.

Book Synopsis

Maggie Crozat has the Halloween heebie-jeebies in USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s howlingly funny sixth Cajun Country mystery. 

Maggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana. 

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present. 


Author Bio

Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Her Catering Hall Mystery series, written as Maria DiRico, launched with Here Comes the Body and was inspired by her real life. She’s an award-winning playwright and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS, but she considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. A native New Yorker who attended New Orleans’ Tulane University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and rescue furbaby. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Author Links

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/

BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron?from_search=true&from_srp=true

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico?from_search=true&from_srp=true

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Ellen-Byron/e/B00J7NW9IM?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1591801316&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Maria-DiRico/e/B07SF86ZM2?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1591801389&sr=1-1

Purchase Links – Penguin Random HouseAmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

Giveaway

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers) by Adriana Licio


Book Synopsis

A holiday is a time to relax, unwind and see the sights. But for two adventurous sexagenarians, the sights have a tendency to include dead bodies. 

Etta and Dora, both newly retired teachers, travel from their home in Southern Italy to a fairy-tale German town for their first home swap holiday, delighted by their neighbours’ warm welcome. But the welcome turns sour when the Night Watchman of Rothenburg is brutally murdered while his tour group takes photographs nearby, a halberd buried in his chest and a peculiar iron mask by his side.

When the murderer claims a second victim and the son of their hospitable neighbours becomes the number-one suspect, Etta’s analytical mind goes to work. Why was a shame mask left at the scene of each murder? Is there a clandestine trade going on behind the scenes of apparently upstanding local businesses? And why does every lead take her back to the sinister Devil’s Ale pub and the terrifying gang who lurk within?

Meanwhile, Dora has a puzzle of her own – how can she persuade Etta that a loveably disobedient Basset Hound called Napoleon is now a permanent part of their lives?

 Pack your bags, jump into the backseat of Etta and Dora’s old Fiat 500, and join them on their travels around Europe. There’ll be mystery, murder and mayhem aplenty wherever they go. 


Author Bio

Adriana Licio loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she reads and writes cozy mysteries.

She resisted writing as long as she could. But one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in that weird English she’d learned in Glasgow…

Author Links 

Free Prequel: https://adrianalicio.com/murderclub

Website: https://adrianalicio.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/adriana-licio

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/program

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianalicio.mystery/inbox/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/adrianalici

Purchase Link – Amazon  FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Giveaway 

One lucky reader will win an eBook copy of The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies.  You can enter at the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway ends midnight, 9/24/20.  The winner will be notified by email and needs to respond within 48 hours, or a new name will be drawn.  Good luck!

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Dear Abby - I'm Back! Birthday and Life Update

 

Dear Friends,

I'm back!  I've really missed chatting with you here.  I hope you had a good summer.

I had a birthday on August 25. That is the date in 2010 that I traveled across country in an RV with other rescue dogs.  I got out of the RV and right into my Momma's arms.  It was a wonderful day for us both!  We celebrate my "gotcha day" as my birthday.  I was 1 year old in 2010 when I came to live with Momma, so I am 11 years old now.  I celebrated with Momma and one of my friends who came to visit. Some of my dear friends sent cards and surprises in the mail too.  (Thank you very much!  I really appreciate you. 💓)  I wore my little birthday hat for just a little bit and then I decided it had to come off.  Immediately!  So it did.


My other news is about my health.  Earlier this summer I wasn't feeling like myself.  I put on a little weight, was drinking a lot of water, panting sometimes at night, and (ahem!) tinkling more than usual.  I went to the vet and they ran lots of tests.  We got the news that I have Cushing's Syndrome.  This is an endocrine disorder;  my body is making too much of the hormone cortisol.  

Cushing's is treated with medicine, so I get yummy treats (with pills inside) every day.  My friend the vet is checking on how well the medicine is working through an ACTH test.  I go back in to the vet for blood work, a shot of ACTH, and after waiting an hour I give more blood.  It takes a while.  I am a very good girl at the vet but I do not enjoy this!   Thankfully I like our vet and the nice people who work at the clinic.  My pet family has been going there almost 20 years.

I am feeling well and having lots of extra time to rest and snuggle Momma.  I do appreciate any prayers and am grateful for love and good thoughts at this time as well.

I will share one more picture of me in my natural habitat.  Momma has captioned this picture "I wait here for you."  She says I am a Momma's girl.  That is true!

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you will come back on Fridays for future posts. I don't have a fall theme yet, but will at least try to say "hi" on Fridays here.

Love,

Abby xoxo



Book Review and Giveaway - Checked Out for Murder: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook


My Book Review

Carrie Singleton is working at the small Connecticut library she loves when she meets psychic Daphne Marriott, who wants to host a program at the library. The women become friends and Carrie is saddened when Daphne is murdered. When a second murder occurs, a starlet in a movie shooting in town, Carrie goes to work to solve the crimes -- with the help of her boyfriend, Dylan (a private investigator), library ghost Evelyn, and of course, her cat Smokey Joe.

I wanted to read Checked Out for Murder because I have enjoyed all the books in the Haunted Library series.

This is another fun read from Allison Brook.  I love the cozy library setting, the library ghost, and the cat-character of Smokey Joe.

Carrie has her work cut out for her in this mystery, with not one but two murders to solve. The cases seem very different too, so she has to do a lot of research of suspects' histories to connect the dots. This one kept me guessing until the denouement!

This is a well written, fast-paced mystery that can be read in a couple of evenings. The author does an especially good job at setting the scene and creating interesting characters.

I enjoyed Checked Out for Murder and recommend this mystery (and the series) for fans of cozy mysteries, library settings, and mysteries that involve pets. I look forward to the next read in this series!

Book Synopsis

Carrie Singleton and Evelyn the ghost sleuth the slayings of a starlet and a star-crossed psychic in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook’s fourth Haunted Library mystery.

Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she’s a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there’s more to Daphne than she lets on.

The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne’s brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie’s overbearing mother hits town. Mom’s much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that’s lensing locally, and she’s there to keep an eye on him: Tom’s costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fiancée, and there’s no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.

Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne’s mean ex-husband? Carrie’s sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town?


Author Bio

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series.

Author Links

Website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Amazon_MarilynLevinson

Facebook: http://bit.ly/MarilynLevinson_Facebook

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/Goodreads_MarilynLevinson

Twitter: @MarilynLevinson; @AllisonBrookML 

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/

BookBub:   https://www.bookbub.com/profile/allison-brook

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marilyn-levinson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marilev4/

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

Giveaway

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Dear Abby - Summer Break (And a Happy Otter Video)


Dear Friends,

I just wanted to touch base and let you know I'm planning to take a Summer break starting now until after Labor Day.  My plans involve lots of extra naps, walks (especially early in the day when it is cooler), and just staying cool and enjoying time with my Momma.  I also have an upcoming birthday!

I also want to share a happy otter video with you.  I love this short video with a little otter playing with water.  It looks like he is having lots of fun!


I hope you have a great Summer and I look forward to catching up with you in September.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


Friday, July 17, 2020

Dear Abby - Videos That Abby Likes: Dachshund Pool Party

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week and staying cool!  This is the hottest week of the summer here, so I am enjoying time inside with air conditioning.  I'm also looking at videos of swimming dachshunds.

I found a silly but fun video of Crusoe the famous dachshund and his friends having a pool party!  It makes me laugh to see all the happy doxies in their sunglasses (and one even wearing a bikini! I may need one of those.)

Without further ado, enjoy this short dachshund pool party:



I hope you had fun watching this and wish you a good weekend!  I'll check back in before I take my summer break.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - An Appalachian Summer by Ann H.Gabhart

My Review

An Appalachian Summer is a historical novel set in 1933.  Piper Danson has returned home from college to find her father has informally arranged her marriage to a prominent young businessman, Braxton Crandall. However, Piper's heart is still with her childhood sweetheart, Jamie Russell.  After she goes to a presentation on the Frontier Nursing Service, she volunteers to be a courier for the group in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer.  The summer working in Appalachia, away from her family, changes her life.  When both Jamie and Braxton follow her to the mountains, things really get interesting!

I wanted to read this novel because the setting and subject matter were intriguing.  I rarely encounter historical novels set during the Depression years, and the Appalachian Mountains setting was especially appealing.

This is a lovely read about another time and place!  The historical details are lovingly rendered;  the author does such a good job of capturing mountain life in the 1930's.  Piper works closely with nurse midwives and watches (and helps with) some childbirths.  She encounters sweet children from hardscrabble backgrounds.  She also experiences life on a farm for the first time - milking cows, taking care of horses, tending to chickens.  There are a few instances of the treatment of animals in this mountain community that were hard to read, although they seem realistic for the time and place. 

Piper is a brave, daring young woman who is willing to step out of her comfort zone to learn how other people live;  she truly is motivated by helping them and making a difference in their lives.  I loved her sweet lifelong love of Jamie, and also liked that her other suitor, Braxton, is a decent person and likable in his own right.

There is an enjoyable secondary storyline about Piper's aunt Truda, who is in her 40's and never married.  She lost touch with her first love, Jack, years ago, but he surprisingly crosses paths with the family in this novel.  I enjoyed reading their story as well.

An Appalachian Summer is an engrossing historical novel that gives a unique glimpse at another time and place.  I had not heard of the Frontier Nursing Service before, and learned it was a real organization, founded by Mary Breckenridge - just like in the novel.  Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this summer story.

Book Review and Giveaway - Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews

My Review
Fair as a Star is a historical novel set in a sleepy English village in 1864.  Beryl Burnham has just returned home from a year in Paris, and she is about to enter into a marriage of convenience with the area's most eligible bachelor, Henry Rivenhall.  Unfortunately, she has strong feelings for his brother, Mark, who is village curate.  As Beryl struggles with her feelings, she also deals with a feeling of shame about the melancholia that has been part of her life since she was young.

I wanted to read this novel because I love Mimi Matthews' books.  I was also intrigued by the title for this new series - Victorian Romantics.  In school I loved Victorian literature, so this definitely caught my interest.

I have to say that Fair as a Star is my favorite Mimi Matthews book yet!  I love the characters, especially Beryl, who is so sweet, sincere, and sometimes tentative.  Mark is one of the best book boyfriends I've "met" in recent years.  He is the polar opposite of Henry (who is so cool and unemotional) and even knows that Beryl's life would be better with a little dog!

The storytelling and romanticism are lovely.  For instance:

"
His strong fingers brushed the bare nape of her neck. Soft. Tender. It was almost a caress. Enough to send a delicate shiver down Beryl’s spine. Mark must have felt it, too, for he quickly removed his hand. It seemed as though he might have said something more, but in that same instant, a gentle gust of wind caught his tall hat from the pile at his side. It tumbled down over the grassy slope of the riverbank, coming to a halt on a cluster of flowering weeds. He made no effort to chase it. She looked up at him in question. His expression turned wry. 


'There are few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.' 

A slow smile spread over her face. 'The Pickwick Club,' she said, temporarily diverted. 'I’m amazed you can recite it so readily.'" (Kindle position 662)

Sigh -- romance and Dickens quotes!

I only wish this relatively short book had lasted longer ... it was such a lovely read.  The love story was slow building and swooping at once.  There was some humor (i.e. the naughty but lovable little dog Ernest).  The author also deals sensitively with the social theme of depression during the Victorian era.

I cannot recommend Fair as a Star highly enough for fans of Victorian England, historical fiction, and beautifully written old fashioned love stories!

Book Synopsis
A Secret Burden…

After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.

A Longstanding Love…

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.

During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings—or betraying his brother?


Available on Amazon



Author Bio
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, 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 copy of Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.  

Giveaway Rules 
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 28th. 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.  
Fair as a Star 


Friday, July 10, 2020

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Otter Love

Dear Friends,

Sorry to have been absent for a little bit. I just needed a short break. I missed talking to you though, and wanted to come back and catch up. I am intending to take a late summer break (from later July until Labor Day), like I have the past few years, so I will be taking another break in a week or two.  I'll be sure to touch base, though, and let you know.

I have a cute video for you today -- another from a friend (thanks, Uncle Dave!). I am calling it Otter Love because it is about an otter that I want to adopt. He looks so friendly and happy. I love his little paws!  Otters always remind me a little bit of dachshunds. Do you see that too?

Without further ado, here is the little otter. (This is another video that may work better on a computer rather than mobile.)



Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you have a good weekend.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg


My Review
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop is a sequel to Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  The Wonder Boy is Bud (Buddy) Threadgoode. He is the son of Ruth Jamison, and is later adopted by Idgie Threadgoode and her family. After losing his arm in an accident as a young boy, he grew up in Whistle Stop, Alabama with Ruth, Idgie, and their extended family and friends. The novel goes back and forth in time, and much of the plot centers on Bud's daughter, Ruthie, a widow who is living in Atlanta and looking for her next chapter in life.  Bud impulsively travels to Whistle Stop, an abandoned town at this point, and that trip leads Ruthie to join him in Alabama, where they meet and befriend Evelyn Couch.

I wanted to read The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop because I love Fannie Flagg's books! She is one of my favorite authors and I absolutely love Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  

This is the most delightful book.  It moves back and forth in time, like memory, from the 1930's to the 1960's, the 1980's, and into the present day.  The chapters are short, punctuated with humor, occasional poignancy, and Dot Weems' little newsletter about the town of Whistle Stop.

It felt like visiting with old friends again seeing what happened next to the characters I loved in Fried Green Tomatoes.  I really enjoyed the continuation of Ruth and Idgie's story in the lives of  Bud and Ruthie.

The storytelling is fun and lively, with passages like this (about Bud):

"One afternoon, when Ninny was over at the cafe visiting with Ruth, she said, 'That boy of yours is a real wonder boy.' 

Ruth smiled. 'Why do you say that?' 

Ninny laughed . “Because he’s always a wonderin’ about somethin’ or another. Why do kittens purr, or why do rabbits have long ears? This morning, when he was over at my house, he says to me, “Aunt Ninny, I wonder why chickens have feathers and wings , but they don’t fly off anywhere?” So I said, “That’s a good question, honey. If I was a chicken and I saw Sipsey headed toward me with her five-pound skillet, I’d sure fly away if I could.” (Kindle location 235).

I enjoyed getting to know Bud and Ruthie in this book. Bud is an especially likable character, with his lifelong love of animals (he is a retired veterinarian in present day) and his abiding love for all things Whistle Stop. Ruthie is also an interesting character, with many parallels to Evelyn's storyline from Fried Green Tomatoes.  The scenes with Ruthie and Evelyn together are pure gold.

I cannot recommend The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop highly enough for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, southern fiction, and especially the novels of Fannie Flagg.  Settle in with a glass of iced tea and a long afternoon of good reading.  You will not be disappointed!

Book Review - The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

My Review

The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a historical novel set at the New York Public Library.  It tells the story of two women whose lives are changed by their time at the library.  In 1913, Laura Lyons lives in a mezzanine apartment at the library with her family.  Her husband works as the library's superintendent and she is pursuing a career in journalism, unusual for a woman in her time. When a rare copy of Edgar Allen Poe's Tamerlane goes missing, their lives are changed.  In 1992 Laura's granddaughter, Sadie Donovan, is working as curator at the library. Once again, several rare books go missing, and the search is on for the thief.

I wanted to read The Lions of Fifth Avenue because I enjoy Fiona Davis's writing and I absolutely adore books with a library setting.  I sell vintage books, so the antiquarian book storyline was especially appealing to me.

I absolutely loved this book and have been telling friends about it since I first started reading. The history of the New York Public Library is fascinating, from the early apartment cloistered in the building, to the methods of handling and cataloging books (and other historic, book related artifacts), to the curators' daily work. The details of antiquarian books at the library and their special markings and attributes was especially fascinating to me.

There are intriguing passages about the library like this:

"Sadie led the trio through the halls, pointing out all her favorite spots: the painted ceiling of a cloudy sky above the back stairwell, the Edward Laning murals depicting the history of the written word in the rotunda, and the view of the foyer from the second-floor balcony. Then down to the stacks where the library’s millions of volumes were housed. 


'If the shelves were laid end to end, they would measure over eighty miles,' she said.

Mrs. Smith let out a small 'Oh, my.'

'This particular branch of the New York Public Library is a research library, not a circulating one,' said Sadie. 'That means we don’t lend the books out, they must be consulted on-site. Furthermore, the stacks are not for browsing, they are closed off to the general public. Instead, a patron consults the card catalog and puts in a request, and then the book or books are sent to the Reading Room. The retrieval process hasn’t changed much in all the time the library has been open to the public, since 1911.' The stacks consisted of seven tiers that rose from the basement level to just below the Reading Room. They reminded Sadie of an ant colony, with library pages dashing up stairs and down the narrow aisles, locating one book among millions within minutes along the steel shelves. She pointed out the conveyer system that carried books up to the patrons waiting in the Reading Room, as well as the dumbwaiter used for oversized works." (Kindle location 337).

I found the lives of Laura, in 1913, and Sadie, in 1992, very compelling. They both struggle with pursuing work that they are passionate about. Laura wants to be a journalist and essayist at the point that few women pursue this career.  When she runs into an old college friend and attends the Heterodoxy Club in Greenwich Village (a group for women to express opinions on the vote, birth control, etc.), her conviction about her future changes.

Sadie longs to be curator of the library, but she has to fight for the position and really struggles in her early days on the interim job.


Both women also try to sort out their personal lives. Laura is married with two young children, but she wants more than the conventional life of wife to a powerful man.  Sadie is divorced and intends to stay single, until she meets the investigator working on the case of missing books at the library. I found Nick, the investigator, very intriguing -- he was much more complex and sophisticated than expected.  I loved the slow building romance between Sadie and Nick.

The two parallel cases of missing antiquarian books were utterly fascinating, and the mystery from 1913 wound into the 1992 timeline as well.  I found the search for the books, through old bookstores and covert dealers and collectors, so interesting to read about.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue is one of my favorite reads from recent years, and will certainly be high on my book list for this year. I cannot recommend it highly enough for fans of historical fiction, libraries, antiquarian books, literary history, New York history, or just fans of a beautifully told, compelling story.


Friday, July 3, 2020

Book Review - The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton


My Review

The Summer House is the story of Lily Bishop, who wakes up one morning to find her husband Worth has left her a goodbye letter and divorce papers - right after they relocated to Alabama's Gulf Coast for his job. Stuck in a new place with no family, Lily scrambles to find a job. She finds work as a hairdresser at a senior apartment community, where she can live above her shop. At Safe Harbor, she becomes friends with Rose, a divorced woman in her 60's who owns the community. She also slowly becomes friends - with some romantic interest - with Rose's nephew, Rawlins, who is a single father. Over the summer Lily finds a way to reinvent her life, with a little help from her friends.

I wanted to read this book because I have read all of Lauren K. Denton's books and loved every single one of them. The Summer House sounded like a perfect beach read!

This is my favorite Lauren K. Denton book yet!  I absolutely loved everything about it.  Lily is such a sweet, likable protagonist.  She is a kind, gentle soul who longs for a happy life like her childhood in North Georgia.  Her husband, Worth, was a poor match for her -- he is very driven, from an Atlanta society family, and he doesn't share Lily's love of the simple things in life.

I loved the slow building friendship/romance between Lily and Rawlins.  Rawlins is so sweet with his young daughter Hazel.  He is devoted to his Aunt Rose (who is also Lily's boss) and works hard as a shrimper.

Rose is also an interesting character.  She is cool and reserved, but she has been hurt in the past too, and is just cautious with her heart.  As she spends takes care of Hazel for Rawlins, befriends Lily, and has an unlikely romantic interest of her own, she blossoms. At one point Hazel remarks:  "'Aunt Rosie is named after a flower too,' Hazel said. “Rose and Lily.” (Kindle position 1638).


The descriptions of small town southern life on the Alabama Gulf Coast are just lovely.  They made me want to pack my bags and spend some time there!  For instance:

"
The weathered cedar house was up on stilts, with a screened porch up a set of stairs. Twinkle lights were strung all along the ceiling of the porch. Down below the house, two hammocks and a wooden swing hung from the rafters. On the other side of the patio, grass stretched all the way to the water and a short dock. As she watched, a brown pelican glided to a stop and perched on top of one of the posts. She laughed. 'It doesn’t get more picturesque than this.'" (Kindle position 2939).


Safe Harbor is also a charming place, full of quirky active seniors.  The chapters are punctuated by little daily newsletters about life at Safe Harbor.  They are fun to read and sometimes have some humor too!

I highly recommend The Summer House as a perfect summer read.  It is such a lovely, relaxing book getaway!

Book Synopsis
Sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself again.

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.



 

Purchase Links


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Author Bio
Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, released in spring of 2018, is a USA Today bestseller. GLORY ROAD will release in March, 2019.
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