Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Friends - Videos Abby Likes: Tiptoeing Dogs

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by this week! My share today starts with a rainy morning.  Yesterday it was raining pretty hard when I went out to walk.  I don't like rain.  I'm a good girl and I walk in it, but I don't have to enjoy it.  I walk on leash and I was moving slow.  Momma looked down at me and I was tiptoeing through the wet grass.  I figured I could keep my paws dry better that way!

I felt sure other dogs must tiptoe too, so I looked up dogs who tiptoe on the computer.  I found two videos with other dogs who tiptoe around!  The first is a puppy who tiptoes up on his toy before he snatches it up.

The other is a dog named Milton who likes to tiptoe all around the house like a doggy spy.  I think the tiptoeing makes him look mysterious!

I hope you enjoyed these little videos and I hope you are not having too much rain in your corner of the world!

Till next week --


Abby xoxoxo 

Book Review - Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

My Review
Simon the Fiddler begins in Texas in 1865.  Simon Boudlin is a fiddler who ends up being conscripted in the Civil War just before it ends.  He plays in a regimental band, and at one of the performances he glimpses an Irish governess who works for one of the military officers.  He falls in love with Doris Mary Dillon at first sight and determines to marry her.  When the war ends Simon makes a band with other musicians, and they travel through Texas.  He never loses sight of his dream though, and this novel is about his journey.

I wanted to read this book because I found the idea of a traveling musician post-Civil War fascinating.  Although I live in the deep south, I have read surprisingly few novels set during the Civil War and this sparked my curiosity.

The book starts at a leisurely pace with an introduction to Simon and his life as a young man and as a musician.  I found it picked up pace after he first saw Doris.  Their courtship - through letters, and at a stop and start pace  because of her status as an indentured servant for a wealthy family - is what makes the book come to life for me.

I also loved the details about music, the descriptions of songs Simon and the musicians played, with old fashioned lyrics and accounts of their performances.  The little ragtag band has adventures as they travel and play - some humorous and some heartbreaking. 

This is such a beautifully written book with passages that read like poetry.  For instance:

"Simon had seen many mezzotints of shipwrecked soldiers on rafts amid the mighty billows being tossed upon the stormy main, and he had imagined ocean waves as perpetually cone-shaped.  It seemed to him the waves would then arrive at a given shore as a collection of triangles.  Then they would fall flat on their faces, dissolve, and their place would be taken by yet another rush of water, et cetera.  Spiky.  He had imagined waves as spiky water.  But what he saw were long rolling terraces of blue water that rose and fell into sparkling foam in hushing sounds, over and over.  They had no end.  He could have watched forever" (pp. 49 - 50).

The story becomes an adventure the latter third of the book as Simon tries to set his plans in motion despite the danger this puts both he and Doris in.  After the sometimes languorous earlier storytelling, I found I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what happened with Simon and Doris.

I found Simon the Fiddler to be an unusual book because of the poetic language and the storytelling that was almost like an American fairy tale.  Once I got used to the pacing, it was very appealing and engrossing -- and a journey I would recommend to other readers who enjoy historical fiction (and especially a Civil War setting).

Book Synopsis
The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty thanks to his slight stature, youthful appearance, and utter lack of compunction about bending the truth. But following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted, however belatedly, into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the quick-thinking, audacious fiddler can’t help but notice the lovely Doris Mary Dillon, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. He will travel around Texas seeking fame and fortune as a musician. She must accompany the colonel’s family to finish her three years of service. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden, and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

Find out more about Paulette at her website.

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

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Old Friends and New, Another Murder (Sheridan Hendley Mystery) by Christa Nardi

Book Synopsis
A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.

When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

Author Bio
Christa Nardi is an accomplished writer and an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery crime authors over time, but she still loves a good mystery. Christa has authored the Cold Creek Cozy Mystery Series, the spinoff Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series, and the Stacie Maroni Mystery Series.  She co-authors the Hannah and Tamar Mystery Series. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel with her husband and playing with three dogs and three grand-daughters.

Author Links:
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BookBub –
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Purchase Link – Amazon

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review - Silent Shadows by Natalie Walters (Harbored Secrets, Book 3)

My Review
Pecca Gallegos has relocated to a small town in coastal Georgia with her young son.  She works as a nurse and physical therapist at a nursing care center for injured servicemen.  Her new life is good - until a threat from her past in Texas comes back to haunt her, and she is in danger.  She is determined to stay safe with the help of a handsome Army veteran, Colton Crawford. 

I wanted to read Silent Shadows because I really enjoyed the first book in the Harbored Secrets series.  I love the setting of these books and the suspenseful tone.

Pecca is a strong protagonist.  She is caring, independent, and determined to make a happy life for herself and her young son.  She is very committed to her work, helping returning servicemen, and her care is admirable.  I enjoyed reading about her friendships in the little town and the romantic sparks she experiences with Colton.

The mystery aspect of this story is terrific -- fast paced and so suspenseful that I was up past my bedtime reading to see what happened next!  I saw the denouement of the mystery coming, but really enjoyed the conclusion.

I read the first book in this series, somehow missed the second, and then picked up with the third.  This book would work fine as a stand alone, but I think most readers will enjoy the character development and sense of place you get from the series.

My only regret is that this appears to be the end of the series.  I wish there were more reads!  I look forward to reading what comes next from Natalie Walters.

Book Synopsis
They're running from their pasts into an unknown future.
But first, they'll have to survive the present.

Nurse Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolves into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally--her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton's involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer--and more deadly--than they realized.

Welcome back to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name--but no one knows your secret.

Author Bio
Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of twenty-three years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dancing Dachshunds on Britain's Got Talent

Dear Friends,

I have a short but fun video to share with you this week.  I found this by chance and loved it. I think you will enjoy it too!

There is a show (that I have never seen) called Britain's Got Talent. A woman named Diana Vedyashinka appeared on the show with her troupe of dancing dachshunds. They are very impressive - they dance together, synchronized, and even roll over at the same time.

Without further ado, here is the short video:

I smiled just seeing it again! I hope you did too.

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - To Fetch a Scoundrel, Four Fun “Tails” of Scandal and Murder (Mutt Mysteries) by Heather Weidner, Jayne Ormerod, Rosemary Shomaker, Teresa Inge

My Review
To Fetch a Scoundrel is a collection of four short novellas. All the stories are mysteries, and all features dogs in some way. The collection includes:
The Fast and the Furriest - a mystery set at a small race track
Pawsitively Scandalous - a surprising mystery in a quiet suburban neighborhood
Ruff Goodbye - a mystery at a bar and wake involving some shady characters
A Doggone Scandal - a dogwalker becomes involved in solving a murder mystery

I wanted to read this book because the four novella format appealed to me, and of course, I love dogs and cozy mysteries featuring dogs!

I enjoyed reading four short novellas in this book. The authors all did a good job of telling a complete, well plotted mystery story in this short format.

Pawsitively Scandalous and A Doggone Scandal both had strong dog theme storylines, so those were particularly enjoyable reads. I thought Pawsitively Scandalous, with the drama of a little suburban neighborhood, was a particularly fun read and could have been expanded to a full length novel or even the start of a series.

I have not read the earlier book in this series, but this is a fun idea, and the short reads are appealing. I think other dog lovers will enjoy this book.

Book Synopsis
The mystery-solving mutts are back! To Fetch a Scoundrel, the second in the Mutt Mysteries collection, features four tail-wagging novellas. Each story puts pups’ noses to the ground, as scandals are unleashed and killers are collared. Once you’ve finished reading these tall “tails,” you’ll no longer wonder, “Who let the dogs out?” You’ll just be glad somebody did!

Author Bios
Heather Weidner

Originally from Virginia Beach, HEATHER WEIDNER has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband are her novels in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, and her novellas appear in the Mutt Mysteries. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, James River Writers, and International Thriller Writers. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.
Jayne Ormerod
JAYNE ORMEROD grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of over a dozen published stories, from novel length to short-short.
Rosemary Shomaker
ROSEMARY SHOMAKER writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman you don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes mystery, women’s fiction, and paranormal short stories. Stay tuned as she takes her first steps toward longer fiction.
Teresa Inge
TERESA INGE grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and novellas. Today, she juggles assisting two busy executives and is the president of the Sisters in Crime, Mystery by the Sea chapter. Teresa is the author of the Virginia is Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and the Mutt Mysteries series.
Purchase Links

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Book Review and Giveaway - Murder in the Secret Maze (A Tory Benning Mystery) by Judith Gonda

My Review

Murder in the Secret Maze is the start of a new cozy mystery series featuring landscape architect Tory Benning. When we first meet Tory, she is marrying Milo, the man of her dreams -- but he vanishes right after the ceremony. His disappearance comes right after her father's sudden passing and Tory channels her grief into solving the mystery of what happened to her husband. The mystery involves a maze at a luxurious hotel, and Tory is helped in her detecting by her lifelong best friend.

I wanted to read this mystery because I was intrigued about the secret maze. I know very little about landscape architecture, but find it interesting, so that was appealing too.

This is a solid start to a new series. Tory is established as a character, and readers get to know her friends and relatives too. She even has a lovable Pomeranian dog named Iris! 

The mystery aspect of the story was well done and it kept me guessing right up to the resolution. There were several plausible suspects, and Tory did a good job pursuing clues.

Tory actually was so obsessed with the mystery that I was taken a bit aback a few times, like when a gypsy fortuneteller entertainer is dying in front of her and she pulls out her phone to take pictures of some clues. She also seems more focused on the mystery at times than with dealing with her feelings about her father and newly disappeared husband. 

The pacing is particularly strong;  the book moves quickly and the various mystery storylines flowed together well.

I think Murder in the Secret Maze is a strong start to a new mystery series, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Book Synopsis

First in a new series featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning!

Landscape architect Tory Benning knows the lay of the land, but she’ll have to dig through the clues to unearth a killer . . .

After a whirlwind romance and a glorious wedding at the luxurious Hotel Santa Sofia, Tory Benning is ready to let down her hair, slip into her dancing shoes, and celebrate—until she discovers that her newly minted husband has vanished. The police suspect cold feet and second thoughts are behind Milo’s disappearance, but Tory’s certain he’s met with foul play. And since she designed the plush resort, she knows every nook and cranny of the grounds and adjoining secret maze, and wastes no time delving into her search.

As clues begin to emerge that Milo may have taken his last breath in the maze, Tory steps up her sleuthing, even as she learns she’s the prime suspect of a cop with a chip on his shoulder and is squarely in the sights of a menacing stalker. And when a second body is found on the grounds, Tory fears she’s up against a killer determined to silence any and all who get in the way. .

Not to be deterred, Tory forges ahead, navigating a case with more twists and turns than the maze itself, until the labyrinth of clues leads her to shocking revelations about her husband, her family, and the identity of a killer who’s dead set on making her the next victim . . . .

Author Bio

Judith Gonda is a mystery writer and Ph.D. psychologist with a penchant for Pomeranians and puns, so it’s not surprising that psychology, Poms, and puns pop up in her amateur sleuth mysteries featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning.

Author Links:
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Purchase LinksAmazonBarnes and Noble  –  Kobo  – SmashwordsGoogle Play

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Dear Abby - Vintage Easter Postcards With Dachshunds

Dear Friends!

Easter is coming up this weekend, so I've been looking for vintage Easter postcards to share with you. I found some that I hope you will enjoy!

A little girl in an Easter dress hugs her dachshund, while another doxie looks on:

A dachshund and Jack Russell Terrier chase the Easter bunny to the top of a giant egg. 

A dachshund is pictured with snapdragons and little chicks.

Dachshunds play with flowers and an empty oversized Easter egg. 

Dachshunds visit the Easter bunny's booth to collect Easter eggs.

A chicken and dachshund find a nest of eggs!

A dachshund plays with the ribbon trim on an Easter egg while looking at a little chick.

A dachshund meets several bunny rabbits!

A little girl holds a giant Easter egg while her dachshund plays with the egg's ribbon trim.

I hope you enjoyed these sweet vintage postcards.  Wishing you and yours a happy and blessed Easter!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The German Heiress by Anika Scott

My Review
The German Heiress is the story of Clara Falkenberg. When we first meet Clara, it is 1946 and she is living under an assumed name in Hamlin, Germany where she becomes engaged to a doctor who has secrets of his own.  However, her past compels her to return to Essen.  Her family owned a huge ironworks business in Essen and Clara helped run it during the war.  Her wartime work makes her sought after by the Allies, and especially one British officer who is determined to bring her to justice.  As she searches for a mysterious childhood friend, she meets Jakob, a marketeer on the black market who Clara calls on for help.  

I wanted to read this novel because I am interested in the 1940's and World War II historical fiction.  This story sounded very intriguing and different.

This book is a whirlwind ride.  Although it is beautifully written historical fiction, it is also a fast paced mystery.  The story of Clara's past, her family's many secrets, and her missing friend Elisa is peeled back layer by layer on the pages.

Clara is such an interesting protagonist -- not an admirable character but one who is very human and multi-layered.  Jakob is similar -- he is a black market seller but he is brave and caring.  (I loved the character of Jakob and thought his scenes were particularly compelling.)

The settings in this book were so atmospheric - the bombed out iron factory, Clara's childhood home (now occupied by Allied officers), and a mysterious bunker full of rations and weapons.  It would make an amazing movie!

A few chapters in I had to stop and re-read the author's biography from the back of the book. It is astounding to me that this is Anika Scott's first novel. It is so skillfully written and complex, and the language often sings like poetry.

I won't say more about the plot because there are so many twists and turns in this story.  I will say the ending of this book absolutely blew me away.  It was so unexpected and powerful.

I cannot recommend The German Heiress highly enough for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who loves 1940's settings.  This is a must read!

Book Synopsis
Clara Falkenberg, once Germany’s most eligible and lauded heiress, earned the nickname “the Iron Fräulein” during World War II for her role operating her family’s ironworks empire. It’s been nearly two years since the war ended and she’s left with nothing but a false identification card and a series of burning questions about her family’s past. With nowhere else to run to, she decides to return home and take refuge with her dear friend, Elisa.

Narrowly escaping a near-disastrous interrogation by a British officer who’s hell-bent on arresting her for war crimes, she arrives home to discover the city in ruins, and Elisa missing. As Clara begins tracking down Elisa, she encounters Jakob, a charismatic young man working on the black market, who, for his own reasons, is also searching for Elisa. Clara and Jakob soon discover how they might help each other—if only they can stay ahead of the officer determined to make Clara answer for her actions during the war.

Propulsive, meticulously researched, and action-fueled, The German Heiress is a mesmerizing page-turner that questions the meaning of justice and morality, deftly shining the spotlight on the often-overlooked perspective of Germans who were caught in the crossfire of the Nazi regime and had nowhere to turn.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio
Anika Scott was a journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chicago Tribune before moving to Germany, where she currently lives in Essen with her husband and two daughters. She has worked in radio, taught journalism seminars at an eastern German university, and written articles for European and American publications. Originally from Michigan, she grew up in a car industry family. This is her first novel.

Find out more about Anika at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dear Abby - Dachshund Memes and Funnies

Dear Friends, 

I hope you are having a good week. I just wanted to share a few dachshund funnies with you today. These are pictures I have shared at Doxieposse Pals on Facebook. (Come join us!) 

This is pretty much my philosophy of food. I am ALWAYS ready for the next meal.

This dachshund is making some lovely nose art!

Do you see it in the clouds?  Sigh!

This is just a sweet picture! What a handsome and loving doxie.

Good words to live by: I'm not short, I'm concentrated awesome!

Looks like a beagle pup -- how could anyone be mad at that face?!

This dachshund looks very relaxed!

I love this one: We were wolves once, wild and wary; then we noticed you had beds.
I have never gone this far to chase a squirrel but I have a couple of friends who might!

I hope these pictures gave you a smile. Wishing you a good day ahead!

Abby xoxoxo