Friday, September 24, 2021

Book Review and Giveaway - The Limits of Limelight by Margaret Porter

My Review

The Limits of Limelight is a story of old time Hollywood. Pretty young Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols visits her aunt and her cousin, Ginger Rogers, in Hollywood. She soon finds herself renamed Phyllis Fraser and pursuing a movie career in the 1930's under her Aunt Lela's watchful eye. As she deliberates between an acting or writing career, she has several short-lived romances, and meets a number of famous Hollywood friends.

I wanted to read this novel because I love classic Hollywood and the Ginger Rogers mention in the book blurb was intriguing. I love the old game show What's My Line? and have always especially enjoyed Bennett Cerf on that show. I also sell vintage children's books, and love finding, researching, and selling old Random House editions including Dr. Seuss books. I had no idea when I picked this book up that Phyllis Fraser was the wife of Bennett Cerf - and was part of the publication of the early Random House I Can Read books.

I absolutely loved this book and am already recommending it to friends who love old movies.  It gives a rare behind the scenes glimpse of Hollywood in the 1930's.  I loved, thanks to the book, visiting the Garden of Allah where Ginger Rogers, her mother, and Phyllis lived. This famous apartment building had a fountain full of goldfish and famous (and soon-to-be-famous) Hollywood names lounging around the swimming pool. Phyllis also becomes friends with the ill-fated Peg Entwhistle, who committed suicide by jumping off the Hollywood sign.  Her other famous friends include Anne Shirley, John Payne, Betty Furness, and a young Katherine Hepburn.

The novel spans from 1931 - 1947. The chapters were relatively short but pithy and full of anecdotes and vividly drawn scenes that moved the storyline along.  The author does an exceptional job at capturing another time and place - and what a time and place it was!

I highly recommend The Limits of Limelight for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in old movies and Hollywood in the 1930's.

Book Synopsis

Pretty Oklahoma teenager Helen Nichols accepts an invitation from her cousin, rising movie actress Ginger Rogers, and her Aunt Lela, to try her luck in motion pictures. Her relatives, convinced that her looks and personality will ensure success, provide her with a new name and help her land a contract with RKO.  As Phyllis Fraser, she swiftly discovers that Depression-era Hollywood’s surface glamour and glitter obscure the ceaseless struggle of the hopeful starlet.

Lela Rogers, intensely devoted to her daughter and her niece, outwardly accepting of her stage mother label, is nonetheless determined to establish her reputation as screenwriter, stage director, and studio talent scout. For Phyllis, she’s an inspiring model of grit and persistence in an industry run by men.

While Ginger soars to the heights of stardom in musicals with Fred Astaire, Phyllis is tempted by a career more fulfilling than the one she was thrust into. Should she continue working in films, or devote herself to the profession she’s dreamed about since childhood? And which choice might lead her to the lasting love that seems so elusive?

Amazon | Apple iBooks | Audible | Barnes and Noble | Blackwell’s | Book Depository | Bookshop.Org | Books-a-Million | Chapters | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Kindle | Kobo

Author Bio

MARGARET PORTER is the author of more than a dozen works of historical fiction, including The Limits of Limelight (September 2021) and the award-winning Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr. Her critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several foreign languages. Other writing credits include nonfiction, newspaper and magazine articles, and poetry. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked professionally in theatre, film and television. Margaret and her husband live in New England with their dog, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes. When not writing, she keeps busy reading, tending her extensive rose gardens, or playing the mandolin.

More information is available on her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away some fabulous prizes!

Grand Prize Winner:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook, plus an acrylic 16-oz sippy “go” cup with straw.

2nd and 3rd Prize Winners:

Choice of an autographed paperback or an ebook or an audiobook.

Runners-up (5):

Reproduction vintage Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire postcard, plus author-autographed bookplate.

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on October 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Limits of Limelight


Book Review - A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano

My Review

In 1830's London, Ella Blythe longs to be a ballerina. Her quest for a career in ballet brings her closer to her mother's mysterious history, questions about her father, and a love story of her own.

I wanted to read A Midnight Dance because I absolutely loved The Love Note and Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano.  I enjoy historical fiction and also have a lifelong interest in ballet, so this novel was particularly appealing.

The author does an amazing job at setting the scene in another time. As a reader, I vividly pictured the theater and the world Ella traveled through. The novel had a dark, atmospheric tone for me, with the past fire and the haunted ambience of the theater backstage (especially at night).

Ella is an interesting protagonist - she is striving for a career at a time when there were few careers for women, but she is also trying to answer the mysteries of her family background and to find romance and happiness in her own life. She finds a way to connect with her faith through dance.

A Midnight Dance has many layers - and many twists and turns too. I recommend it for fans of historical fiction, Christian fiction, and for anyone who has a strong interest in dance.  

Book Synopsis

The best moments in dance are the unscripted ones

At their core, all theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most--and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater.

After a chance encounter with one of the ballet company's handsome dancers late one night, Ella is swept off her elegantly pointed toes. The dance they share and the promise he makes to her feel like a new beginning. Yet as she faces mounting challenges in the ever-shrinking ballet company, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the ghostly ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own disastrous end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the unyielding grip of the past?

Author Bio

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears, A Rumored Fortune, Finding Lady Enderly, and The Love Note. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone's story. She lives with her husband and their children in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at

Friday, September 17, 2021

Book Review - A Christmas in the Alps by Melody Carlson

My Review

A Christmas in the Alps is the story of Simone Winthrop. Simone's beloved grandmother who raised her has passed away, and while going through her things she finds a mysterious letter from her great-grandmother. The letter suggests that there is treasure hidden in Avre, France, her hometown. Simone travels to France, meeting a handsome clockmaker on the plane trip, and begins the holiday season in France. She gets to know her long lost relatives and searches for the mysterious treasure. Of course, she also has time for a little romance!

I wanted to read A Christmas in the Alps because I always love Melody Carlson's Christmas novels. I have reviewed them for the past few years. I also was intrigued by the French setting (I love novels set in France) and the search for antique treasure.

This was a delightful short novel from start to finish.  Simone is a relatable protagonist who is searching for her place in the world after the loss of her grandmother, leaving her job, and breaking up with her boyfriend. She wants more out of life but isn't sure what that is yet.

I absolutely loved the Avre, France setting, with the charming inn, the home of Simone's great aunt, and the historic old clock factory.  The treasure hunt was especially intriguing.  I was so curious to see what the treasure actually was!

A Christmas in the Alps is a sweet, heartwarming book that would make a great Hallmark movie. I recommend it for anyone looking for a fun, relaxing weekend read.

Book Synopsis

Get ready for a magical mountain holiday

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that Simone is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, she boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who's on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone's family's clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

Author Bio

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice, and her novel All Summer Long was made into a Hallmark movie. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

Friday, September 10, 2021

Dear Abby - I Return

Dear Friends,

I am so happy to catch up with you all today! I hope you have had a nice summer with lots of time to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

I had plenty of nap time (see picture above!) and even took naps with my Momma when I could get her to take a cuddle break.

Of course, there were several fireworks holidays but I snuggled up in my Thundershirt and got through all the noise safe and sound.

Nicest of all, I had a birthday! I am now 12 years old. 

I had a special birthday goodie after my evening kibble and got several bags of treats as gifts.  I was so excited that this picture is a little blurry (I was moving).

I tried to open one of the treat bags and almost succeeded!

I have missed talking to my friends here and will be blogging as often as I can. Momma helps me blog and we have a lot going on right now. I am going to try to blog at least once a month. (Hopefully more in the future!) 

I would love to hear from you in the comments and catch up on how you, your puppers, and kitties are doing!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Deadly Summer Nights (A Catskill Summer Resort Mystery) by Vicki Delany

My Review

Elizabeth Grady is managing a Catskills resort called Haggerman's in 1953. Her mother, a retired actress, is the owner, but Elizabeth is doing the day to day work. When a guest is murdered, she becomes involved in solving the mystery. There are lots of details about day to day life at the resort, and even a little possible romance for Elizabeth.

I wanted to read this mystery because I love historic mysteries and am fascinated by the Catskills. I never pass up a book, movie, or TV show set in this locale.

Deadly Summer Nights is a delightful read. The author does a wonderful job at establishing a sense of time and place. There are so many fascinating little details, like this description which involved retro food:

"I followed him across the lobby, up the grand staircase, and into the ballroom. The orchestra was having a break, and the lines at the bar and the food table were long. An angel food cake covered with a thick layer of pink icing dotted with maraschino cherries, platters of Rice Krispie squares, and a glistening pineapple upside-down cake were tonight’s offerings. More than a few of our guests took a piece of everything on offer. Some helped themselves to more than one piece of each" (eBook location 708).

The mystery is well plotted, with a number of plausible suspects. I figured the killer out about the same time Elizabeth did.  There is a large cast of characters which led to a slightly slower read - but that just gave me a little extra time to enjoy the book!

Elizabeth is a fun amateur detective. She's very smart and enlists the help of her lifelong friend Velvet in solving the mystery.

I highly recommend Deadly Summer Nights to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and most especially to readers who enjoy Mid-Century settings and retro Catskills. I look forward to upcoming books in this series.

Book Synopsis

A summer of fun at a Catskills resort comes to an abrupt end when a guest is found murdered, in this new 1950s set mystery series. 

It’s the summer of 1953, and Elizabeth Grady is settling into Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. As a vacation getaway, Haggerman’s is ideal, and although Elizabeth’s ostentatious but well-meaning mother is new to running the resort, Elizabeth is eager to help her organize the guests and the entertainment acts. But Elizabeth will have to resort to untested abilities if she wants to save her mother’s business.

When a reclusive guest is found dead in a lake on the grounds, and a copy of The Communist Manifesto is found in his cabin, the local police chief is convinced that the man was a Russian spy. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure, and with the fate of the resort hanging in the balance, she’ll need to dodge red herrings, withstand the Red Scare, and catch a killer red-handed. 

Author Bio

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea by the Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books, the Catskill Resort mysteries for Penguin Random House, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates) for Crooked Lane.  

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links

Website –

Facebook –;

Twitter:  @vickidelany and@evagatesauthor

Instagram: vickidelany

Bookbub: Vicki Delany Books – BookBub

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound


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