Friday, December 10, 2021

Dear Abby - Christmas Greetings (and a Holiday Break)

Dear Friends,

My Momma and I are going to take a blogging break through the middle of January, so I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  I would also like to share a few holiday memories with you.

This picture is from my first Christmas with my Momma (and beloved late brother, Barney Fife). Momma got these slippers that look JUST LIKE ME and I decided they should be mine.  This photo appears on the bottom of all my blog posts, so you have seen it before.

I am not a fan of sweaters, for photos or otherwise. Enough said!

Here I am in a Santa hat.  My beloved Grammy is holding it on my head.

Momma went all out one year for Christmas pictures. Yes, I am in a hoodie!  On top of that, there were many, many pictures taken that day of me dressed up in my Santa suit.

This is how Christmas photos should be - just give a girl a red chair and a toy.  Ahh!

Here I am, a few years ago, proudly surveying my Christmas toys!  I have never been a huge fan of playing with toys, but I sure do like to snuggle with them.

Wishing you a happy holiday season!  I will look forward to chatting again in the New Year.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Killer Words (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns

My Review

Samantha Washington owns a mystery bookshop in a small town in Michigan. When the town's police detective is implicated in a murder, she is determined to clear his name - with the help of her grandmother, Nana Jo, who lives in a retirement community nearby.

This is my first read in the Mystery Bookshop series. It appealed to me because of the mystery bookshop setting - and the cute poodles on the book's cover!

This was a fun read! I can't believe I haven't read this series before - and now I really want to catch up. I enjoyed the mystery bookshop, and the little tidbits about mystery series through the book.

I also enjoyed Samantha's mystery writing - a historical mystery involving Kick Kennedy, which was interspersed through the book. You get a mystery within a mystery in Killer Words!

The poodles, Snickers and Oreo, were lovable. (I always like cozy mysteries with cute pets.)

Samantha is a smart detective, thanks to all her work with mystery books - and as a new mystery novelist. She thinks like a detective. I enjoyed watching her solve this puzzle - with the help of the delightful Nana Jo.

I also liked the romantic storyline with Samantha and her beau, Frank, who owns a local restaurant. (There are some fun foodie descriptions in this book as well.)

Killer Words was a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries. I know I will be looking for future reads from V.M. Burns as well!

Book Synopsis

Bookstore owner and mystery writer Samantha Washington comes to the aid of the cop who once arrested her own grandmother . . .  

Sam and Nana Jo are back in sleepy North Harbor, Michigan, where Sam is eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book. In search of more immediate excitement, Nana Jo hits the casino with her fellow Shady Acres Retirement Village gal pals—but they get more than they bargained for when they witness Detective Bradley Pitt decking mayoral candidate John Cloverton.  

As Sam well knows, mystery novels are full of brilliant detectives, genius sleuths, and hero cops. Detective Bradley Pitt—aka “Stinky Pitt”—is another story. In the past, the dull-witted detective has mistakenly accused members of Sam’s family for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, it’s his turn: when Cloverton turns up dead, he’s arrested. With his predilection for polyester, Pitt has been wanted by the fashion police for years, but Nana Jo knows her former elementary school math student would never commit murder—it doesn’t add up. Somebody’s framed the flatfoot to take a fall, and Sam and Nana Jo must step in to restore the reputation and good name of Detective Pitt.

Author Bio

V.M. Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, is on the national board for Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at

Author Links







Purchase Links

Amazon      APPLE    Barnes&Noble     Books-A-Million    Bookshop.Org    Google     KOBO


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Friday, December 3, 2021

Book Review - Daughters of War by Dinah Jeffries

My Review

Daughters of War is the start of a new series (also called Daughters of War). This novel is set in a small village in France during the last year of World War II. Three sisters live alone in a little cottage after their mother left them to move back to England years ago. There is Helene, an artist turned nurse, who takes care of everyone, Elise, who is involved in the Resistance movement, and Florence, the youngest, an innocent dreamer.

I wanted to read this novel because I love historical fiction and the 1940's is my favorite time period to read about. I also love books set in France, so this novel was particularly appealing to me.

This book is such a big, sprawling, old fashioned family saga.  Although it is a long read, I finished quickly because I had a hard time putting the book down!

This is a fascinating story about three sisters who are so different from each other, but who have a powerful bond after growing up largely on their own.

The story of German occupation was heartbreaking and some of the violence the sisters witnessed - and experienced - was brutal. Through it all they had an admirable resilience and strength.

This is my first read by Dinah Jeffries and I absolutely love her writing. She has a painterly eye for descriptions, like:

"Hélène was pensive as she threw open her bedroom window the next morning to listen to the church bells. Thank goodness it was Sunday and she didn’t have to go to work. She loved gazing at the magical view over their part of the Dordogne or, as their mother always called it, the Périgord Noir. It was a land of oak and pine trees, rocky gorges and clifftop castles and the prettiest villages you’d ever see, their limestone buildings soft and buttery. She watched as the sun broke through the early-morning mist to reveal the silvery shine on the river and golden sunlight bathing the rooftops of the village. Spring was well and truly here, and the air was as fresh and clear as crystal" (eBook location 149).

Of the three sisters I found Helene's story the most interesting and nuanced, as she is creative but also the family caregiver. I also enjoyed her slow moving romance with Resistance fighter Jack.

I found Daughters of War fascinating and absorbing, and look forward to reading the next books in the series as well.  Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in France during World War II.

Book Synopsis

The first in an epic new series from the #1 international bestselling author, Daughters of War is a stunning tale of sisters, secrets and bravery in the darkness of war-torn France…

A new sweeping historical novel of World War II from the international bestselling author of The Tea Planter’s Wife. Available to pre-order now!
France, 1944.

In an old stone cottage, on the edge of a beautiful French village, three sisters long for the end of the war.

Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening.

Elise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost.

And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free.

Then, one dark night, the Allies come knocking for help. And Hélène knows that she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear…

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio

Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation.

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and slightly overweight Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off to make tiaras and dinosaurs with her grandchildren.

Find out more about Dinah on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Dear Abby - Thankful for YOU!


Dear Friends,

Happy almost-Thanksgiving to you! I hope you have a good day. I wanted to take just a minute and thank you for visiting my blog over the past few years. I especially appreciate the friendly comments left here!  I usually leave comments back.  Thanks, too, for sharing my blog post links - I often see them when my Momma is on social media and it makes me happy.

In short, I am thankful for YOU!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - A Saint a Day: 365 True Stories of Faith and Heroism

My Review

A Saint a Day: 365 True Stories of Faith and Heroism is a devotional book for children. Readers will learn about a different saint each day.

I wanted to read this book because I am interested in church history and found the idea of learning more about saints in a devotional book both interesting and inspiring.

This is a beautifully designed book. The cover art is appealing and the small hardcover book is also sturdy and well made. There is a place inside the book for a gift inscription, and this would be a lovely gift - especially at Christmas, so children could start reading in the New Year.

Each devotional is on one page, with the dates of the saint's life, a Bible verse, and a short biography. The book concludes with a short one line prayer for the day inspired by the reading. 

The writing is engaging and the details about the saints' lives are really interesting!  I think the short, lively entries will engage and inspire children who read this book through the year.

I highly recommend A Saint a Day, especially as a gift - and a source of inspiration and learning through the upcoming year.

Book Synopsis

Teach your child to walk in faith, act justly, and lead with kindness and humility with this 365-day devotional for kids. A Saint a Day includes fascinating historical stories as it introduces young readers to over 300 saints who did extraordinary things for God.

Mother Teresa left her family at age 18 to become a missionary. St. Patrick helped spread Christianity to Ireland. St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin–and also had a pet lion!

Written for ages 8 to 12, A Saint a Day inspires young readers with remarkable stories of people who made extraordinary choices to love and serve God. Featuring popular saints such as Teresa of Ávila, Francis of Assisi, Juan Diego, and Thomas Aquinas, each of the 365 devotions includes:

A Scripture verse and prayer
A short summary or inspiring story of a saint
A fun fact
Artwork with a fresh, kid-friendly design

This daily devotional for kids is:

An ideal gift for First Communion, Confirmation, or Advent
A unique book for strengthening a child’s faith
A great way to share Catholic church history with kids

A Saint a Day will help your child realize the long history of people of faith. As you journey through this yearlong devotional, your children will grow in their understanding of church history and better understand how they can love and serve God.

Book Review and Giveaway - The Debutante's Code by Erica Vetsch

My Review

In 1816 England, Lady Juliette Thorndike returns to London from school with her best friend, ready to make her society debut. Her parents, however, are mysteriously absent. At every society event she attends, there seems to be a mystery involving a lost or stolen work of art. Juliette becomes involved in the mystery - with the help of handsome police detective Daniel Swann.

I wanted to read this novel because I love the Regency period. I enjoyed the author's Serendipity and Secrets series, and knew what a strong writer she is.

The Debutante's Code is a delightful start to a new series! I enjoy Regency fiction, but rarely see books set during this period that are also engaging mysteries. The mystery aspect of this novel was my favorite part. There are so many fascinating details about the art that is stolen (and all the art was based on real pieces, as detailed in the last section of the book!). I actually felt I learned some interesting details about art history just from reading this book.  (The Shakespeare folio was especially fascinating!)

Juliette is a bold amateur detective, especially when paired with Daniel Swann.  The romantic sparks between them makes the book even more intriguing.

This was an unusually fast paced read for a historical novel - I couldn't put it down and found myself planning the evening around extra reading time.

I highly recommend The Debutante's Code for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who enjoys historical mysteries and the Regency period.

Book Synopsis

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn't spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They've been living double lives as government spies--and they're only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family's legacy.

Now Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors--not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents' last mission?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance. 

Author Bio

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and    ACFW Carol Award winner, and has been a Romantic        Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus,        history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted    Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.

The Serendipity & Secrets trilogy, her first Regency series, launched in 2020 to rave reader reviews. Her latest           release, The Debutante's Code is the first of the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mysteries.

Learn more about Erica at or find her on Facebook.


Friday, November 12, 2021

Book Review - National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

My Review

National Geographic's Complete Birds of North America is a beautiful, oversized book about birds.  The cover promises "More than 1000 species - the most detailed information in a single volume," and I certainly found this to be true.

I wanted to read this book because I have a lifelong love of birds -- my small business is even called Birdhouse Books! Every day when I am out walking on my own or with my dog, I look for birds and love to identify them. This big book of birds held a natural fascination for me.

This is truly an exceptional book for a bird lover. The book is divided into types of birds - for instance - Pigeons and Doves, Loons, Swallows, Larks, Mockingbirds and Thrashers, etc. Then if you look up a bird there is much more specific information, including illustrations of the bird, a map where the bird is found in North America, and: Identification (adult male, adult female, and juvenile), Status and Distribution, Breeding, and Population.  The common name of the bird is given along with the proper name - for instance Rock Pigeon, Columba livia.

I thought this book would be a field guide but am delighted to find it is the most fabulous encyclopedia of birds.  I have truly enjoyed looking up favorite birds, reading about them, and am sure I will consult with this book again and again as I see new birds on walks that I want to learn about.

National Geographic's Complete Birds of North America is a beautifully made book - big, oversized, with gorgeous illustrations. It would be an exceptional gift book for a bird lover.

Book Synopsis

More an encyclopedia than a field guide, National Geographic’s Complete Birds is a browsable treasure trove of facts. This comprehensive volume profiles every bird observable in the continental United States and Canada, featuring species accounts with details that include calls and songs, breeding behaviors, molting patterns, and the vast extent of their polar and neotropical migrations. The precision maps, illuminating photographs, and more than 4,000 exquisite pieces of annotated art make this the biggest and best bird book ever.

This third edition, thoroughly updated, includes:

Information on more than 1,000 species and subspecies
Overviews of every family
Organization reflecting current taxonomy
850 range maps, more than half updated since the last edition
Sidebars on identification challenges such as distinguishing between Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers in fall or separating the various species of white egrets

These 752 pages add up to a lifetime of learning for all devoted birders, from those just beginning birders to those who have been building their life lists for decades.


Book Review and Giveaway - Death on the Shelf: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook

My Review

Death on the Shelf is the 5th book in the Haunted Library mystery series. Carrie Singleton, librarian and amateur sleuth, witnesses a murder at her best friend's wedding when the bride's cousin falls into a chocolate fountain. Carrie becomes involved in solving the mystery ... and also finding her ghostly librarian friend Evelyn's long lost brother.

I wanted to read this book because I have enjoyed every single book in the Haunted Library series. This is one of my favorite cozy series and it is one I have enthusiastically recommended to friends. The series has all the ingredients of a perfect cozy: a charming small town setting, a library, some romance, and a lovable pet (in this case, Smoky Joe, Carrie's cat).

This was a fun read. There were a wealth of solid suspects and I enjoyed solving the case right along with Carrie. The wedding was a strong setting for a murder because there were so many people there, including many plausible suspects.

I especially enjoyed Carrie and Dylan's romance in this book, as they moved closer.  Dylan, who also is an investigator (of high end items that are lost or stolen) is a great book boyfriend, supporting Carrie but also helping to keep her safe.  

Since part of the wedding involves Carrie's best friend, Angela, she is in the book a lot, and so is Carrie's charming reformed thief dad, Jim.  And Smoky Joe the cat is his lovable self as well!

I recommend Death on the Shelf - and the entire Haunted Library series - very highly.  It is such a fun, fast moving read, and unique thanks to Carrie's ghostly friend Evelyn. 

Book Synopsis

Librarian Carrie Singleton sleuths a murder at her best friend’s wedding in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook’s fifth Haunted Library mystery.  

Clover Ridge librarian Carrie Singleton is thrilled to attend her best friend Angela’s wedding, but Angela’s family can be a bit…much. Angela’s wealthy cousin Donna hosts an extravagant bridal shower at her resplendent home, but the celebrations turn to gossip as the guests notice Donna’s surgeon husband, Aiden, spending a bit too much time with Donna’s cousin Roxy. At the wedding reception, the sweet occasion turns darkly bitter when Aiden topples into the chocolate fountain–dead. 

The suspect list is as long as the guest list, and as difficult to sort out as the seating chart. A few of the top contenders on Carrie’s suspect list are the flirtatious Roxy, emotionally unstable since her recent divorce; Angela’s grouchy brother, who feels Aiden betrayed him; and Roxy’s scorned ex-husband. Even Donna may have had reason to want her husband dead. And Aiden’s gossipy office manager has plenty to say about them all.  

Then another member of Angela’s family is murdered, making Carrie more determined than ever to find the killer. Can library ghost Evelyn and library cat Smoky Joe help Carrie solve the murders before she becomes the next of Angela’s wedding guests to head to the grave?

Author Bio

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.

Her juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards.

Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids.

Author Links

Amazon page:
Twitter: @MarilynLevinson; @AllisonBrookML

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound


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Friday, November 5, 2021

Book Review - Night, Night Angel: A Sleepy Christmas Celebration by Amy Parker

My Review

Night, Night Angel is a board book for young children. It tells the story of Little Fox, who discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

This is such a charmingly designed picture book for young children, with illustrations by Virginia Allyn. The cover is glittery and sparkly, with sleeping woodland animal friends. 

The animals say goodnight to snow, to a tree, to cookies, to family, as they hear the story of the first Christmas.  Little Fox snuggles into his mother's arms, happy to learn about Christmas.

I am a former preschool teacher and I love children's books. Night, Night Angel is so lovingly told, with an appealing storytelling style, charming illustrations, and a sweet, meaningful story.  I love the design of the book, the sturdy pages (perfect for even the youngest children!) and think it would be a comforting bedtime story book.  Recommended for gift giving -- or for family reading leading up Christmas.

Book Synopsis

‘Tis the season for joy! Celebrate the family fun and season’s blessings of Christmas with a young arctic fox as your family remembers that Jesus is the best gift of all. Amy Parker’s delightful rhymes and Virginia Allyn’s sweet illustrations make Night Night, Angel the perfect read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers enjoying the Christmas season.

Little fox loves all the excitement that Christmas brings to the forest: making creative presents, placing the star on the tree, and making sure she is spotlight-ready for the big Christmas play. But soon she realizes that the perfect gift has already been given through the baby who arrived on the first Christmas night!

As the fourth seasonal title in the hugely successful Night Night bedtime storybook brand, this Christmas board book

  • gives families a fun way to say goodnight during the Advent season
  • celebrates the special moments of family holiday activities
  • gently reminds children that Baby Jesus is the reason for the season

The Christmas theme and sparkling cover make Night Night, Angel perfect for an Advent gift, stocking stuffer, or Christmas morning surprise from parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, and friends. Your little angel will be ready to snuggle in for the night as together you celebrate the many blessings of Christmas!

TLC Book Review - Slothy Claus: A Christmas Story by Jodie Shepherd

My Review

Slothy Claus is a picture book about animal children waiting for a special visit from Slothy Claus. Unfortunately, sloths move slowly ... but the animal children learn about what really matters at Christmas.

I wanted to read this book because sloths are such fascinating little animals! The holiday tie-in made the book even more appealing.

The story is told in rhyme and it would be a great read aloud for bedtime or for a group of children.  The illustrations are exceptionally charming!  Slothy Claus is so cute.

Children will love seeing little animals getting ready for Christmas, just as they do.  Slothy moves slowly, though ... and doesn't arrive until July.  When he does arrive with gifts and cheer, the animal children are so happy to see him, and feel the joy of Christmas all over again.

Slothy Claus is a cute and clever picture book with a unique protagonist and unique storyline too. I think it will appeal to young children, preschool to kindergarten age.

Book Synopsis

What will children do when a sluggish Slothy Claus doesn’t make it to their home in time for Christmas morning? This charming story helps kids learn that Christmas is about more than just presents under the tree.

Slothy Claus has lots of presents for good boys and girls this year, but how is this notoriously lethargic animal supposed to travel all around the world in just one night? You guessed it! Slothy takes his sweet time, and when kids wake up to empty stockings and bare trees, it feels like Christmas is ruined! How will they ever find happiness without their chocolates and toys?

Slothy Claus is equal parts humorous and heartwarming. Children ages 4 to 8 will

  • learn that the joy of Christmas doesn’t come from material things but from the love between family and friends
  • enjoy the delightfully funny one-of-a-kind artwork
  • love the classic rhyme that will fill your own family’s Christmas with love, laughter, and a spirit of giving

Slothy Claus concludes with a summer scene complete with flip flops and a barbecue when Slothy Claus finally flies down in his sleigh to deliver gift after gift–for a special celebration of Christmas in July. With a bright, glittery cover, this fun picture book is the perfect gift for advent or Christmas.

Book Review - A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott

My Review

A View Most Glorious is part of the American Wonders Collection by Regina Scott. These historical novels all are set in national parks.  This novel is set in Tacoma, Washington and Mount Rainier in 1893. Coraline Baxter is a debutante turned suffragette who wants to climb Mount Rainier to prove that woman can do anything. Her mother objects but her good-natured stepfather wants to climb the mountain as well.  Nathan Hardee was once part of society, but now he works in the wilderness ... and he agrees to help guide Cora and her hiking party up the mountain.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed the previous two books in the series so much. I love historical fiction and am interested in the national parks.  The subtle inspirational message of these books is also very appealing to me.

This was a delightful read! Cora is a sympathetic protagonist. She wants more out of life than an arranged society marriage. I admired her determination and strength of conviction. And Nathan!  I enjoyed getting to know him slowly, as a reader, as Cora got to know him on their trip. Their slow building love story was very appealing.

I recommend A View Most Glorious, and this series, for fans of historical fiction and especially for anyone who is interested in the national parks.  The novels are so well written and provide a glimpse at a historical setting that is rarely seen in fiction.

Book Synopsis

Reluctant socialite Coraline Baxter longs to live a life of significance and leave her mark on the world. When her local suffragette group asks her to climb Mount Rainier to raise awareness of their cause, she jumps at the chance, even though she has absolutely no climbing experience. If she can do it, any woman can do it. And after her mother issues an ultimatum--that Cora marry the man of her mother's choosing if she fails--Cora must do it. But she can't do it alone.

Noted mountain guide Nathan Hardee initially refuses to help Cora but has a change of heart when he sees what is at stake. He knows enough about the man Cora's mother has chosen to know that the headstrong young woman should have nothing to do with him, much less marry him.

These unlikely partners may just discover that only together is the view most glorious.

Author Bio

Regina Scott is the author of more than fifty works of warm, witty historical romance, including A Distance Too Grand--named one of the top ten romances of 2020 by Booklist--and Nothing Short of Wondrous. She was twice awarded the prestigious RT Book Reviews best book of the year in her category. A devotee of history, she has learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research. She and her husband of thirty years live south of Tacoma, Washington, on the way to Mt. Rainier.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Dear Abby - Dachshund Jack O' Lanterns for Halloween

Happy Halloween, dear friends!

It has been a while since I posted here. I had intended to post the first week of every month, but decided to wait a little longer for Halloween in October. I hope you are doing well and having a great fall.

I went on a search to look at dachshund Jack O' Lanterns on Pinterest and I sure found some fun ones!  I thought you would enjoy seeing them too.

This is a very intricate carving - look at that face!

This is a clever idea and looks easier to do -- a dachshund silhouette painted across two pumpkins: 

A dachshund silhouette on a pumpkin:

A dachshund face carved in a Jack O' Lantern - with a dachshund checking it out!

The same design with another dachshund friend:

Ooh - my favorite! Look at all that light! A Jack O'Lantern in three parts with a cute little dachshund:

A dachshund silhouette carved into a pumpkin:

A cute dachshund face on this Jack O' Lantern:

Fun! A dachshund in a witch hat on this Jack O' Lantern:

If you are more ambitious than me and my Momma (!), I found two good links with free dog theme Jack O' Lantern stencils:

Better Homes and Gardens - 24 dog breed stencils

The Pumpkin Lady - cute dog stencils, including one of my favorite dachshund designs

Whether you carve a Jack O' Lantern or not, I hope your Halloween involves lots of TREATS!!  Thanks for popping by and I will try to post again sooner next time.

Love and Halloween greetings,




Book Review - National Geographic Photo Ark Wonders by Joel Sartore

Book Review

Photo Ark Wonders: Celebrating Diversity in the Animal Kingdom is a big, oversized book of animal photographs.  I wanted to read this book because I am an lifelong animal lover and also love animal photographs.

After an introduction, the book is divided into four chapters: Shape, Pattern, Extra, and Attitude. The introduction was a fascinating behind the scenes glimpse at the making of this book. Joel Sartore flew home from an assignment to be with his wife Kathy, who had breast cancer, and their three children.  In the period after this, the idea of the Photo Ark - photographing all the animal species of the world - came to be.  This involved adventures like staying in a zoo's rhino barn.

I love what the photographer writes about animals:

"... Sparing some mouse or little brown toad is simply the right and noble thing to do. There's no money in it, just the satisfaction of doing the right thing as gauged by someone who simply can't stand the thought of living in a world that's being diminished daily.

To me at least, none of this is too burdensome - this invitation for us to pause, and marvel, and act,  before a prairie wind carries that rare bird's soft song away for the very last time, or the mountain stream loses that native trout that has continued to glow brilliant red and gold even through the most violent of storms" (p. 21).   

The photographs in this book are exceptional. I love the close up views of animals that are unexpected, like Budgett's Frog, or a collage of photos of the varieties of crabs!  There are familiar animals, like giraffes, and unfamiliar (at least to me!) animals like the gerenuk, which looks like a long-legged deer.  I think my personal favorite photo was a two page close up of the face of a Sand Cat that lives in the Sahara.  At close range the Sand Cat looks so much like domestic cats that we all know and love.

I cannot recommend Photo Ark Wonders highly enough for anyone who loves animals. This would make an exceptional gift too. It is a book I will leave out to look through and enjoy again and again.

Book Synopsis

A glorious new volume of Sartore’s signature animal portraits, this time highlighting the fascinating shapes, patterns, and expressions of animals both familiar and little known.

Joel Sartore, on a mission to photograph all the animal species in human care, now delights us with more photographs, this time selected to represent the amazing diversity of the world’s animals.

The book’s four chapters — Pattern, Shape, Extra, and Personality — invite us to revel in these photographs, many cleverly paired into amusing and often surprising comparisons, like the catfish and the mouse with the same stripes down their backs, the tarantula and the poison dart frog both cobalt blue, or the tiny lizard and the weighty ox both sporting pointed horns.

  • Each photograph gets its own page or two-page spread.
  • Scientifically accurate captions highlight distinctive features.
  • Throughout, Sartore recalls telling moments from his photographic adventures.

With all new image selections, this book expands the best-selling Photo Ark series, sure to be a hit with those who already treasure National Geographic Photo ArkBirds of the Photo Ark, and Photo Ark Vanishing.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble