Friday, January 22, 2021

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Puppy Meets a Friend in the Mirror


Dear Friends,

I hope you have had a good week. I had a little unwanted adventure this week (ahem, tummy issues), but I rushed to the vet and got meds and am feeling much better now. I have extra treats called Pill Pockets and they have crunchy bits inside.

I haven't had a lot of time online the last few days but I saw a fun video this week that I thought you might enjoy too.  It is another Doxie Din video (those are always good!) and it stars a little dachshund puppy named Jay who meets a puppy in the mirror who looks JUST LIKE him. He gets very excited and runs and plays. The puppy in the mirror does the same!

Here is the video - it's a short one:

Has your dog or cat ever met another pet in the mirror?  Momma has held me up to the mirror but I mostly get distracted by all the attention and I forget the mirror is there.

I'll sign off for now, but look forward to chatting again with you next week.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


 

Book Review - Betrayal at Ravenswick and High Treason at the Grand Hotel by Kelly Oliver


Book Review - Betrayal at Ravenswick

Betrayal at Ravenswick is a historical mystery set during World War I. Fiona Figg's husband has just left her for another woman and she plunges into work with British Intelligence. She goes to Ravenswick Abbey to investigate a game hunter with a mysterious background, but becomes involved in solving a murder at the manor as well.

I wanted to read this novel because I read the description "Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie." I adore Downton Abbey and love historical mysteries, so this book seemed right up my alley.

What an enjoyable mystery! It is so well written, with vivid descriptions and a great sense of 1910's period detail. For example:

"
Andrew and I moved into this flat when we first got married. I’d just turned twenty and was happy to be out of my parents’ house and setting up one of my own. Hard to believe it was 1916 and we’d been married for four years already. I’d immediately fallen in love with the modest two bedroom with high ceilings and large windows facing Warwick Avenue, which was always bustling with life. The kitchen had the newest appliances —an enameled Smith & Philips gas stove, new paraffin lamps from Liberty’s, and of course a telephone mounted on the wall. The glow of the double burner lamp reflecting off the black and white mosaic floor tiles gave it a cheerful feel, and, even then, I knew I’d be happy here. Then the war started. And everything changed" (eBook location 58).

Fiona Figg is a wonderful protagonist! She is intelligent, brave, and has a flair for the dramatic (including clever disguises when detecting). I enjoyed the subtleties of her personality when working at the office, working to solve a mystery, or volunteering as a nurse for wounded servicemen.

I am a great mystery reader and find it rare for the first book in a series to create a whole world the way Betrayal at Ravenswick does. To read this mystery is to be transported to England in 1916.

The mystery aspects of this story were so well done. It was a complex story, with Fiona's surveillance for work overlapping with the murder at Ravenswick. There were several little twists and turns before the denouement.

I highly recommend this book - and series - for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the World War I home front in England. 

Book Synopsis - Betrayal at Ravenswick

What’s the best way to purge an unfaithful husband?

Become a spy for British Intelligence, of course.

Desperate to get out of London and determined to help the war effort, Fiona Figg volunteers to go undercover.

It keeps her from thinking about Andrew, her philandering husband.

At Ravenswick Abbey a charming South African war correspondent has tongues wagging.

His friends say he’s a crack huntsman. The War Office is convinced he’s a traitor. Fiona thinks he’s a pompous prig.

What sort of name is Fredrick Fredricks anyway?

Too bad Fiona doesn’t own a Wolseley pith helmet. At Ravenswick a murderer is on the prowl, and it’s not just the big-game hunter who’s ready to pounce.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Book Review -  High Treason at the Grand Hotel

In the second book of the Fiona Figg series, High Treason at the Grand Hotel, Fiona is sent in 1917 to follow the Black Panther to Paris. Enroute she meets Mata Mata Hari on a train! Staying at the Grand Hotel in Paris, Fiona uses numerous disguises to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed the first book in the series so much. This second novel did not disappoint. I especially enjoyed Fiona's interactions with Mata Hari, and the atmosphere of the Grand Hotel.

It is great fun traveling to Paris with Fiona and watching her cleverly stalk her quarry, especially as she is involved in another murder mystery as well.

I once again enjoyed the period setting, the rich descriptions, and Fiona's quirky, determined character. I recommend this book as well as the first for historical mystery fans. 

Book Synopsis - High Treason at the Grand Hotel

Paris. 1917. Never underestimate the power of a good hat… or a sharp hatpin.

Sent by the War Office to follow the notorious Black Panther, file clerk turned secret agent Fiona Figg is under strict orders not to get too close and not to wear any of her usual “get-ups.”

But what self-respecting British spy can resist a good disguise?

Within hours of her arrival in Paris, Fiona is up to her fake eyebrows in missing maids, jewel thieves, double agents, and high treason.

When Fiona is found dressed as a bellboy holding a bloody paperknife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career that’s on the block.

Her next date might be with Madame Guillotine.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


Author Bio

Kelly Oliver grew up in the Northwest, Montana, Idaho, and Washington states. Her maternal grandfather was a forest ranger committed to saving the trees, and her paternal grandfather was a logger hell bent on cutting them down. On both sides, her ancestors were some of the first settlers in Northern Idaho. In her own unlikely story, Kelly went from eating a steady diet of wild game shot by her dad to becoming a vegetarian while studying philosophy and pondering animal minds. Competing with peers who’d come from private schools and posh families “back East,” Kelly’s working class backwoods grit has served her well. And much to her parent’s surprise, she’s managed to feed and cloth herself as a professional philosopher.

When she’s not writing mysteries, Kelly Oliver is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. She earned her B.A. from Gonzaga University and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She is the author of thirteen scholarly books, ten anthologies, and over 100 articles, including work on campus rape, reproductive technologies, women and the media, film noir, and Alfred Hitchcock. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and she has published an op-ed on loving our pets in The New York Times. She has been interviewed on ABC television news, the Canadian Broadcasting Network, and various radio programs.

Kelly lives in Nashville with her husband, Benigno Trigo, and her furry family, Mischief and Mayhem.

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


 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) by Dorothy St. James


Book Synopsis

The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!  

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.  

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell–with the help of a group of dedicated readers–decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.


Author Bio

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization. 

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time. 

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres.  Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

Author Links

Website: http://www.dorothystjames.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dorothywrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothy.stjames

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/dorothy-st-james

Purchase Links – AmazonIndieBoundBookshopB&N

Giveaway

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Dear Abby - Videos That Abby Likes: Buddy Mercury, the Piano Playing, Singing Beagle


Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!   My week has been busy. I went to the vet for my three month ACTH test for Cushing's.  This is a test where I get bloodwork, have a shot, and then wait an hour before there is yet more bloodwork.  After the test is over I always go home, climb up in the bed, and sleep for the rest of the afternoon. This week was no different.

Today Momma got a call from the vet with the very good news that my test results show I am doing well and the medication I am taking for Cushing's Disease is working well.  Hooray!  This means I don't have to go back for my next test for six months, instead of the previous three. I am very happy about this and am doing a little bit of a happy dance today.  (This means I spin around and get a treat!)

Today I would like to introduce you to a dog I discovered on Youtube. His name is Buddy Mercury and he is a piano playing, singing beagle. He's very handsome and has a sweet face.  He stands up on his back paws and plays the piano with his front paws.  As he plays, he does some deep, soulful howling. I think he's very talented!  Buddy has a Youtube channel and also a Facebook page. Did I mention he is also a rescue dog?

Here is a short video of Buddy serenading viewers:

What do you think? We are beagle fans at my house, and I think Buddy is pretty great! 

Wishing you a good day! Thanks for stopping by to visit.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo



Book Review and Giveaway - Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork (A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery) by Rose Pressey



My Review

Celeste Cabot is an artist visiting the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina for an arts festival. When touring the house, Celeste stumbles onto a body. She becomes involved in a search for the killer and also creates a painting inspired by the events, which turns out to come with a friendly ghost.

I wanted to read Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork because I was intrigued by the mention of Celeste having a pink vintage Shasta camper and a Chihuahua named Van (short for Van Gogh). I love vintage campers and small dogs, and enjoyed both these aspects of the story, as expected. (Van is very lovable!)

This is my first time to read a book in the Haunted Craft Fair Mystery series and it worked fine as a standalone. The author did a good job with character introductions and I was able to jump right in and enjoy the novel from the start.

This is a light mystery that combines murder, a little romance (Celeste has two potential boyfriends), some family fun (with Celeste's eccentric family), and even a paranormal element, since Celeste's paintings often come with visiting ghosts.

The mystery aspect of the story was well done and the author gave just enough clues to help the reader solve the crime along with Celeste.

Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork was a fun, fast read. I would recommend it for fans of light paranormal cozy mysteries.

Book Synopsis

A Gilded Age ghost helps psychic painter Celeste Cabot catch a killer . . .  

Rising up against the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore Estate is a magnificent mansion in Asheville, North Carolina, built as a summer home for George Washington Vanderbilt II—yes, of those Vanderbilts—during the Gilded Age. Nowadays, it’s the site of an annual craft fair. Unfortunately, it’s also about to become a crime scene . . . 

Celeste is hard to miss as she pulls up with her pink and white Shasta trailer and adorable Chihuahua, Van Gogh—Van for short. But before she can show off her artwork at the fair, a tour guide is found strangled by a velvet rope barrier and a valuable painting goes missing. With a rogues’ gallery of sketchy suspects, Celeste welcomes the help of a pair of handsome detectives—and a ghost with a special interest in the case . . . 

Includes tips and recipes!


Author Bio

Rose Pressey is the USA Today bestselling author of the Haunted Craft Fair Mysteries and the Haunted Vintage Mystery Series. She enjoys writing quirky and fun novels with a paranormal twist. The paranormal has always captured her interest. The thought of finding answers to the unexplained fascinates her.

When she’s not writing about werewolves, vampires, and every other supernatural creature, she loves eating cupcakes with sprinkles, reading, spending time with family, and listening to oldies from the fifties. Yeah, she loves Elvis. She can’t help myself. Rose lives in the beautiful commonwealth of Kentucky with her husband, son, and three sassy Chihuahuas.

Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorrosepressey
Blog – itsvintageyall.blogspot.com
Website – http://rosepressey.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rosepressey

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

Giveaway

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Artistic License to Kill (A Fine Art Mystery) by Paula Darnell


Book Synopsis

Artist Amanda Trent, accompanied by her beloved golden retriever Laddie and her persnickety calico cat Mona Lisa, is determined to start a new life after her husband divorces her to marry a younger woman, but it isn’t easy.  

After a disastrous interview at the prestigious Roadrunner Gallery in Lonesome Valley, Arizona, far away from her previous home in Kansas City, Amanda’s afraid that she’ll fail at her new career. But her prospects begin to improve when she’s accepted as the newest member of the cooperative gallery. 

Then, on her very first day, she discovers Janice, the stern director, has been murdered right in the art gallery, and the Roadrunner’s members, including Amanda herself, become suspects. Which gallery member murdered the unpopular director? Or was the killer an outsider with an ax to grind?


Author Bio

Award-winning author Paula Darnell is a former college instructor who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in English and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in English with a Writing Emphasis. Artistic License to Kill is the first book in her Fine Art Mystery series. She’s also the author of the DIY Diva Mystery series and The Six-Week Solution, a historical mystery set in Nevada. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Gary and their Pyrador Rocky.

Author Links

Author Website – https://www.pauladarnellauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PaulaJDarnell

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18782445.Paula_Darnell

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/paula-darnell

Purchase Links

Amazon – Apple Books – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

Giveaway

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Dear Abby - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear friends!

I am happy to be back. I've missed catching up with you here. I hope your holidays were happy. Mine was nice - very relaxed. I got some new toys and treats (love both of those, of course!) and spent LOTS of time with Momma - that is the best. 

Here are a few photos from Christmas day. I am relaxing with my new toys, a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (thanks to my dachshund friend Emily!) and a Gumby doll.

I am actually napping with my head on Rudolph here. I love to cuddle my toys like this.

By evening I was feeling excited about the day and ready to play again:

I'll keep this first 2021 post short and sweet. I look forward to visiting with you here during the upcoming year.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo



Book Review and Giveaway - Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski


My Review

Lily Durham is an American socialite. Her parents, frustrated by her frivolous behavior, send her overseas during World War I. Lily volunteers with her cousin at a makeshift convalescent home in a Scottish castle. There she encounters the dashing but melancholic castle owner, Alec MacGregor, and they become involved in a series of mysteries that threaten the future of the castle.

I wanted to read Beauty Among Ruins because I love the 1910's time period and I was intrigued with the Scottish castle setting.

This is my first read by J'nell Ciesielski. I enjoyed her writing style and especially liked the way she set the scene with descriptions like:

"Inside it was difficult to keep anything on her face but awe. Gleaming mahogany floors opened up to a three-story great hall. Light filtered through the high-arched windows and scattered over the blue-and-gold rug and dark wood furniture. Oil paintings of kilted men with swords drawn and storm-ravished moors lined the walls. Centuries of masculine strength gazed upon all who dared enter, but a cold stillness hung in the air. As if the life were sealed behind the beaten stones." (eBook location 177).

Both Lily and Alec were a bit hard to get to know at first;  Lily comes across as flighty in the early chapters, and Alec seems very gruff. However, as they begin to open up to each other, I saw new depths in both characters and came to like them both very much -- pulling for them to come together and find happiness.

I enjoyed the mystery aspects of this novel as well; it added something unique to the story. This novel has a unique and appealing blend of romance, historical fiction, and mystery.

I recommend Beauty Among Ruins for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the World War I time period.

Book Synopsis

In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Author Bio

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com. You can also find J’nell on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

We have 5 paperback copies of Beauty Among Ruins up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on January 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Beauty Among Ruins