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.


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.

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