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.