Friday, February 19, 2021

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund and Turtle Play Soccer


Dear Friends,

I am on the run this week (not literally, but it has been a busy day!) so I'll just pop in to share a short video with you.

My friend Emily, a dachshund in Texas, sent me a cute video of a dachshund playing soccer with a turtle. The dachshund seems a bit more enthusiastic about the ball than the turtle, but it really looks like they are playing together!

I have never met a turtle before. If you have a dog, have they met a turtle, and if so, what did they think? 

Without further ado, here is this fun little video:

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day.

Love,

Abby xoxoxo



Book Review and Giveaway - The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron


My Review

The Paris Dressmaker is a historical novel that spans 1939 - 1944 in Paris. The story centers on two women. Lila de Laurent is a dressmaker for Coco Chanel. She becomes involved in the Resistance and eventually makes dresses for the mistresses of Nazi officials in order to spy on their activities. Sandrine Paquet is a married mother who works cataloging art that has been stolen from Jewish families and is being sent to Germany. She, too, is involved in the Resistance. When a beautiful and mysterious Chanel gown appears in one of the collections Sandrine is working with, these two women are suddenly connected.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed Kristy Cambron's Lost Castle series. I love historical fiction and particularly like the 1940's time period. I am a bit of a Francophile, so the French setting was a major plus.

This is such a unique novel. It has a dual storyline featuring both the dressmaker, Lila, and the art cataloger, Sandrine. The storytelling is not linear, but weaves back and forth in time. There are mysteries on top of mysteries: the Chanel gown, the stolen artwork, and the men who come and go in these women's lives - Lila's boyfriend Rene, who works to save his Jewish family during the war, and Sandrine's husband, Christian, who is away fighting and intermittently disappearing.

It took me a bit to unwind the story at the beginning, with very quick flashes from one time and place to another. Once I felt comfortable with the narrative style, I was thoroughly engrossed in the story and found this novel hard to put down!

Kristy Cambron's storytelling is beautiful. There are striking descriptions that set the scene, like:

"
Lila wove through the crowd of partygoers beyond the Villa Trianon’s back doors. All around, frivolity reigned. String lights laced the trees. Torches lit garden paths like fairies owned the night. Gowns shimmered in time with the sway of tuxedos and jazz music. Guests rimmed Elsie de Wolfe’s grand circus ring on the lawn and an outdoor pavilion that encircled the trunk of an old oak. Lila passed waiters doling out the ever-eccentric menu of pork and scrambled eggs and a seemingly bottomless supply of champagne cocktails to keep the guests caught up in their revelry until the wee hours. A tree-lined road lay empty beyond the back lawn, hugging the outskirts of the gardens. Behind it the Petit Trianon slept, hemmed in by a bed of perfectly manicured trees and hornbeam hedges" (eBook location 711).

I found the story of the Resistance fighters very inspiring, and was particularly interested in some of the supporting characters based on real people, like art historian Rose Valland and American singer/actress Josephine Baker.

Lila and Sandrine are both fascinating characters - strong and brave even when moving far out of their comfort levels and the lives they lived before the war. I found it particularly interesting later in the book as their storylines began to intersect.

I highly recommend The Paris Dressmaker for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the 1940's or French history.

Book Synopsis

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo


Author Bio

Kristy Cambron is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of nonfiction, including the Verse Mapping Series Bibles and Bible studies. Kristy’s work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations, and has been featured at CBN, Lifeway Women, Jesus Calling, Country Woman Magazine, MICI Magazine, Faithwire, Declare, (in)Courage, and Bible Gateway. She holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a peppermint mocha latte and a good read.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Giveaway

We have 5 paperback copies of The Paris Dressmaker up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Paris Dressmaker


 


Book Review - When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin


My Review

When Twilight Breaks is a historical novel set in Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American working in Munich as a foreign correspondent. She faces daily challenges as a woman in a male dominated field. She worries about her safety in Munich because she has Jewish ancestry. Through her work, Evelyn meets an American graduate student, Peter Lang. They form an uneasy friendship/flirtation. When tensions build in the city, Evelyn and Peter must work together to protect their Jewish friends, to safely spread the word about what they are witnessing, and to try to remain safe.

I wanted to read this novel because I love Sarah Sundin's books. She is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I also found it appealing that this book is a standalone read. 

I think of Sarah Sundin first when I think of 1940's/World War II historical fiction. The historical details in her books are so beautifully researched and she has such a gift at bringing this time period to life. For instance:

"Tuesday, May 10, 1938. The bells of the glockenspiel tinkled their tune from the balcony of the town hall as wooden figures jousted and rolled out beer barrels. Peter would never tire of the show at the Neues Rathaus or the wonder on the faces of those who filled the Marienplatz. Like the little towheaded boy tugging on his hurried mother’s hand and tripping over his feet trying to watch. The wooden rooster crowed three times, and the crowd went on its way. So did Peter. He always timed his walk to the Gärtnerplatz so he passed through the Marienplatz when the glockenspiel played" (eBook location 1196).

This was a fascinating story. Evelyn is such a strong, determined person. I cannot imagine the courage it took her on a daily basis to report from Munich on the cusp of World War I, especially as a woman with a Jewish background (three of her grandparents were Jewish but she was raised Christian).

Peter evolved a great deal as a character in this book. He also grew into a character with great bravery and determination. I loved his quiet strength and the way he always was supportive of Evelyn and her work, at a time when this often was not the case.

This is a very suspenseful novel! I flew through it in a weekend because I couldn't put it down. I cannot recommend When Twilight Breaks highly enough for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the World War II period. This is sure to be one of my top 10 reads of the year.

Book Synopsis

Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she'll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home.

Peter Lang is an American graduate student working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

As the world marches relentlessly toward war, Evelyn and Peter are on a collision course with destiny.


Author Bio

Sarah Sundin is the bestselling author of several popular WWII series, including Sunrise at Normandy, Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. The Sky Above Us received the Carol Award, her bestselling The Sea Before Us received the FHL Reader's Choice Award, and both Through Waters Deep and When Tides Turn were named on Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years." Sarah lives in Northern California. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

 

I received a copy of this eBook from Revell Reads and Netgalley.

 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Dear Abby - Vintage Dog Valentines with Pete Hawley Illustrations

Dear Friends,

Happy almost-Valentine's Day! I have some fun vintage Valentines to share with you today. They are all by illustrator Pete Hawley. He is one of my Momma's favorite Mid-Century illustrators. He designed cards but also did famous ads for Bell Telephone, Coca-Cola, Gripper clothes for children, Florida oranges, Jantzen, Westinghouse, and more!  Best of all, each one of these Valentines features a dog in the illustration!

A little Beagle pushes a boy along as he plays the tuba. "Get in Step! Be My Valentine."

A boy travels to a heart-shaped moon in a rocket ship - along with his little shaggy dog.

 

This is another astronaut theme Valentine: "You're A-OK with me, Valentine."  A beagle stands with the little boy in a space suit.

A girl and boy smile for their teacher. Their Cocker Spaniel went to school with them!

A little girl enjoys an ice cream cone as her Poodle watches.  "Mm-m-m-m you're nice, Valentine!"

A girl talks on a telephone while her fluffy white dog waits patiently.  "I've got your number."

Best of all, a spaniel dog is featured front and center in this Valentine, riding a tricycle. "Doggone it!"


I hope you enjoyed these little vintage Valentines and I hope you have an extra nice Valentine's Day!

Love,

Abby xoxoxo



Book Review and Giveaway - The Heiress Gets a Duke (The Gilded Age Heiresses #1) by Harper St. George


My Review

In 1874, August Crenshaw travels to London with her parents and sister Violet. Unbeknownst to August and Violet, their parents have decide to marry one of them off to a duke. The Crenshaws are wealthy but they want to be part of the aristocracy - even at the price of marrying off one of their daughters to attain this. Evan Sterling, the Duke of Rothschild, has a title and a number of estates, but he needs cash to repair the estates and support his mother and sisters.  Although the Crenshaws push for a match between their youngest daughter, Violet, and Evan, he is more interested in the oldest daughter, August, who is independent and fiery.

I will admit to judging a book by its cover because the cover of this book is beautiful and made me immediately want to read the novel!  I love historical fiction and am interested in the Gilded Age.

This is the first book in a new series. I flew through this read and have already looked to find out more about the next book in the series. I absolutely loved it! The Heiress Gets a Duke is such a smart, well written historical romance. 

August is a bright woman with a head for business (she has helped in her family's business interests) and August and Evan have a meeting of the minds as well as an immediate attraction. They are my favorite fictional couple in quite a while, and I would love to read more of their story!

The period setting, 1874 - 1875 London, was perfection. I loved details like August's Worth gown, and the lovely (but in need of repairs) Rothschild estate.  

Each chapter begins with a clever quotation, often about women's independence or relationships, i.e. "I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives, but as nouns. ELIZABETH CADY STANTON" (eBook location 2636).

The Heiress Gets a Duke was a smart, lively, and fun read! I recommend it highly for fans of historical romance, and especially for anyone interested in the Gilded Age.

Book Synopsis

Even a fortune forged in railroads and steel can’t buy entrance into the upper echelons of Victorian high society—for that you need a marriage of convenience.

American heiress August Crenshaw has aspirations. But unlike her peers, it isn’t some stuffy British Lord she wants wrapped around her finger—it’s Crenshaw Iron Works, the family business. When it’s clear that August’s outrageously progressive ways render her unsuitible for a respectable match, her parents offer up her younger sister to the highest entitled bidder instead. This simply will not do. August refuses to leave her sister to the mercy of a loveless marriage.

Evan Sterling, the Duke of Rothschild, has no intention of walking away from the marriage. He’s recently inherited the title only to find his coffers empty, and with countless lives depending on him, he can’t walk away from the fortune a Crenshaw heiress would bring him. But after meeting her fiery sister, he realizes Violet isn’t the heiress he wants. He wants August, and he always gets what he wants.

But August won’t go peacefully to her fate. She decides to show Rothschild that she’s no typical London wallflower. Little does she realize that every stunt she pulls to make him call off the wedding only makes him like her even more.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


Author Bio

Harper St. George was raised in rural Alabama and along the tranquil coast of northwest Florida. It was a setting filled with stories of the old days that instilled in her a love of history, romance, and adventure. By high school, she had discovered the historical romance novel which combined all of those elements into one perfect package. She has been hooked ever since.

She lives in the Atlanta area with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found devouring her husband’s amazing cooking and reading. She would love to hear from you. Please visit her website at www.harperstgeorge.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Heiress Gets a Duke


 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Hiss H for Homicide (A Nick and Nora Mystery) by T. C. LoTempio


Book Synopsis

Nick and Nora are back in a tantalizing new mystery that’s far more dangerous than a game of cat and mouse . . .  

Never one to turn away from a challenge—even when it goes against her better judgment—Nora Charles can hardly say no when an old friend of her mother’s comes to town seeking her help. The author of steamy romances has learned that her writing partner is severing their relationship and threatening to reveal dark and dirty secrets in a tell-all, and she pleads with Nora to intervene. Reluctantly agreeing to help, Nora pays a visit to the writing partner, ready to make her case—right up until the moment she discovers the woman’s lifeless body. 

With the police convinced that Nora’s friend is the culprit, she and Nick begin delving into the dead woman’s past and her provocative tell-all. It soon becomes apparent that the woman had a knack for digging up dirt and wasn’t shy about exposing skeletons in closets, and before long Nora has a seemingly endless list of suspects who were at risk of having their darkest secrets revealed. With a police force intent on throwing the book at Nora’s friend and time running out, she and Nick must outwit a dangerous killer before they take their own secrets to the grave . . .


Author Bio

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic.  She and her cat pen the Nick and Nora mystery series originally from Berkley Prime Crime and now with Beyond the Page Publishing.  They also write the Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane and the Pet Shop series, originally published by Midnight Ink and continued in 2021 with book two, KILLERS OF A FEATHER, from Beyond the Page. Catch up with them at ROCCO’s blog, catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com or her website, www.tclotempio.net

Author Links

ROCCO’s blog:   www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Website: www.tclotempio.net

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/toni.lotempio.5

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKOBOGoogle Play

Giveaway

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Tico the Singing Parrot


Dear Friends,

I hope you have had a good week.  I am fine, although we had some repair work done here this past week and it was LOUD.  I do not like loud.  A couple of mornings I decided the best place in the house was safely in my bed and under blankets and a quilt.  Burrowing is one of my specialties.

To distract myself online, I have discovered the Youtube channel of Tico, the singing parrot.  Tico is a beautiful, happy bird.  He loves to sing classic rock and 1980's pop while his person plays the guitar.  His music makes me so happy that I have to share three of his songs with you today.

"Here Comes the Sun" is one of my Momma's favorite songs. (She loves The Beatles, so I guess I do too.)  Tico really does a great job singing this one!

"White Wedding" is another fun video. Tico seems very animated here. He sits on the guitar near the tuning pegs and bounces along.

"Gimme Shelter" is sung with Tico in his open aviary.  He sure is a talented bird!

I hope you enjoyed this little visit with Tico!  I am glad to have found his music.

Have a good day!

Love,

Abby xoxoxo


 


Book Review and Giveaway - Death by Intermission (An Abby McCree Mystery) by Alexis Morgan


My Review

Death By Intermission is a cozy mystery set in Snowberry Creek, Washington.  Abby McCree organizes a Movies in the Park event, but discovers a body at the end of one of the screenings. The suspect in the murder turns out to be her mother's boyfriend, so Abby sets out to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I love cozy mysteries and was intrigued by the Movies in the Park storyline. This is my first book in the Abby McCree Mystery series.  I picked up on the characters and setting right way, and it worked fine as a standalone.

This was a fun, fast paced cozy mystery. I liked the small town setting, the characters (especially Abby and her boyfriend/tenant, Tripp), and her lovable, protective Mastiff dog, Zeke.  The tension between Abby and her mother was a major part of this novel, and it was well done and realistic.

The mystery aspects of the novel were well done. It kept me guessing right up to the denouement. 

I recommend Death By Intermission for fans of cozy mysteries, and especially for anyone who enjoys amateur sleuths and small town settings.

Book Synopsis

Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .

Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.

Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .


Author Bio

Alexis Morgan is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State and can be found online at AlexisMorgan.com.

Author Links

Website – http://www.alexismorgan.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AMorganAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alexis_Morgan
 Blog –  http://www.alexismorgan.com/snowberry/index.html 

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N –  Kobo – GooglePlay  –  IndieBound 

Giveaway

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Egg Shooters (A Cackleberry Club Mystery) by Laura Childs


Book Synopsis

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone’s temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.  

Suzanne Dietz co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café is visiting her fiancée, Dr. Sam Hazelet when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.  

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.


Author Bio

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop MysteriesScrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs. 

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston. The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

Laura’s Links:

Website – http://www.laurachilds.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31

Purchase Links

Amazon   B&N  Kobo   Google Play  IndieBound

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