Friday, July 03, 2020

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {7/3/20}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

{I've Been Reading} Still Knife Painting

Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon

Miranda has inherited her late uncle's homestead and has big plains to host cultural experiences, an afternoon of painting lessons followed by traditional local foods paired with tasting samples of moonshine. I'm not the slightest bit interested in moonshine, but the idea of outdoor painting classes in the Daniel Boone National Forest intrigued me If you like cozy mysteries set in small communities with a crafting element thrown in, pick this one up! It's fun and quirky and telling you my favorite elements might spoil the pacing of the book for you so I'm not going to do that. I love these  characters and can't wait to spend more time with them in future books.

A Sprinkling of Murder by Daryl Wood Gerber

Courtney Kelly teaches her customers at Open Your Imagination how to build  their own fairy gardens, selling the little houses plants and figurines that they'll need. When she discovers the owner of the dog grooming business next door is found dead on her patio, Courtney becomes a suspect in the murder investigation.

I wasn't expecting this book to have actual fairies in it and it took me a while to warm up to the idea. Fiona, Courtney's fairy friend, is  trying to earn her adult wings but keeps getting into trouble with the Fairy Queen. Helping to solve the murder will get Fiona closer to her wings. Probably the most unique thing about this new series is that Courtney is so open with everyone about the existence of fairies. Some of her customers can see Fiona and others can't, depending on how open they are to the possibility.

 A Curio Killing by Mary Ellen Hughes

Callie Reed's enthusiasm for the upcoming Keepsake Cove spring festival is only slightly dimmed when she learns that her ex's band will performing. When the band's manager is found dead, murdered with a music box from her shop, and Callie's ex is arrested...well, there's nothing she can do but try to prove him innocent.

This is a fun series and there's a lot in this book about the cove's different shop owners and the relationships between them. That's one of the things that make this  series work so well , along with the fact that Callie is such a likable character. Plenty of potential suspects has me guessing and even though I ultimately guessed wrong, I loved the ending.

Disclosure -- The publishers sent me advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

{I've Been Reading} Gretchen

Gretchen by Shannon Kirk

This one started out strange and got progressively stranger. Lucy and her mother are on the run, setting up housekeeping in their eleventh state because a stranger seemed to think Lucy had reminded him of someone. It's a blessing to find a landlord who will accept the rent in cash and not ask too many questions, but the man and his daughter have secrets of their own. Lucy has always wanted lasting friendships, but soon she realized that Gretchen is really, really weird and has no respect for personal boundaries.

There's an obvious twist or two, then it snakes and spirals into something I don't think anyone would expect. At about the point where the story got insanely convoluted and twisted, I really found myself getting attached to Lucy and her mother.

It's not quite as good as Method 15/33 by the same author, but if you're in the mood for something weird and suspenseful (and don't require things to be actually plausible) give it a try. Especially if you've got Kindle Unlimited.

The Second Wife by Sheryl Browne

The cover copy tells you that Rebecca has stepped into Nicole's old life, living in Nicole's house with Nicole's husband, surrounded by Nicole's things. What it doesn't mention (but is revealed early enough in the book that I don't think I'll spoil it by telling you now) is that Rebecca and Nicole were best friends who haven't communicated much since Nicole and Richard were married.

After meeting them at the funeral, Rebecca is drawn to Richard and his adult daughter...and she also wants to find out what happened to her best friend. The perfect house doesn't seem to line up with what she knew about her friend. The fact that Nicole has given up her beloved oil painting doesn't seem right. The chapters alternate between Nicole in the days before her death, and Rebecca as she tries to learn what happened to cause Nicole's death. There is a lot of sex in this book. Far more than I've ever encountered in a domestic thriller. More than in a lot of romance novels. It kept me intrigued, but it's not one of the best.

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

I Stitched A Goose in a Dress

Or maybe she's a duck. If you'd asked me last year I'd have told you that the last thing on earth I wanted to stitch was a goose....but I'd never seen a goose like this one by Barbara Ana Designs.

Pattern: The Key by Barbara Ana Designs 

I love the patterns with animals in dresses, but this is the best dress ever, with its great colors and geometric details. I started her for Maynia and got a corner of the dress done before moving on to something else because it was the next day and time to switch. A while later, I did some more stitching on the dress, but I was missing one of the shades of floss that I needed and wasn't feeling all that motivated... Then two nights ago the stitching bug bit hard.

Over the course of two evenings I went from "part of the dress is done" to having it completely finished. How long do you think it will take me to finish the fox?

If you enjoy huge single color samplers (or think you might), head over to Long Dog Samplers and download Pandemic. It's free for the next couple of days and absolutely amazing. I've been debating which of their samplers I might want to tackle and I guess this is the one.  It's got birds and flowers and a ton of amazing detail and I'm just deluded enough to think that I might be able to stitch it.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

{I've Been Reading} The Empty Nest

The Empty Nest by Sue Watson

When her daughter doesn't call home or answer her phone, Kat is worried. When she checks Amy's social media accounts and there are no recent posts, she panics. They share every bit of news. It's unlike Amy to go for so long without contacting her mother.

It quickly becomes obvious that Kat isn't the most reliable narrator and that maybe her relationship with Amy isn't quite as perfect as she describes it....but Amy is nowhere to be found and there seems to be something going on. The plot builds slowly but it kept me turning pages and I definitely didn't expect it to end the way it did.

Bottled by Stephanie Ellis

Tyler Vitrum wants nothing to do with his late grandfather's house or the collection of bottles filled with impossibly intricate scenes, some created by his grandfather and others created by family members who came before them both. But Tyler has inherited  the house and his mother and ex-wife both have their eyes on what they think the estate must be worth. So he returns to spend a night, satisfying the terms of the will.

Bottled is a short, bleak read with what seemed to be an interesting premise. The secret lurking behind the house and bottles is, sadly, standard horror fare.

The publisher provided  me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

{I've Been Reading} The Happy Couple

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

I went into this domestic thriller without any information other than what was on the cover and, as much as I try to avoid spoilers, it's going to be impossible to tell you about this book and my reaction to it without mentioning one huge thing that's already in most of the other reviews.

If you don't want that element revealed, go ahead and skip down to the next cover image or to another post. Somehow this book manages to be a domestic thriller with all off the usual trappings and something else entirely.

Abbie, who was in a terrible accident five years ago and just woke up with gaping holes in her memory, is a robot. Her tech genius husband has developed an artificial intelligence, fed it with all of the real Abbie's social media posts and texts and re-created his wife with a few holes in her encyclopedic knowledge. Some fill themselves in as her mind reaches out to the cloud for answers. Others remain stubbornly empty, like the details of how the real Abbie died.

I struggled with this one at first because Abbie wasn't actually Abbie. I can get attached to fictional characters, but apparently not if they're machines pretending to be someone else. The chapters alternate between the new Abbie in the present and the first days of flesh and blood Abbie's relationship with her husband, all of it told in second person. It took a couple of chapters, but before long I was completely caught up in it. The robot isn't the same as the woman, but that works because she's a separate being with her own fears and problems.

I'm very glad I read it even though something at the climax left me completely and utterly confused.

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

This is another one where the book's description didn't give me any idea what I was in for. A reclusive novelist has been missing for a year, presumed dead. Her heirs are instructed to go to her house and read her last manuscript. In its pages, they'll find the password they need to claim their inheritance. It's told in second person, which works because the author is speaking to her niece and nephew, predicting their movements and reactions.

This has to be one of the darkest domestic thrillers I've ever read, even when it's only hinting at what might have really happened behind the events the narrator describes. Like Little Darlings, it includes a fantasy element that may or may not be real. This time, I don't want to think too hard about what the real events behind the narrator's supernatural explanation might be because it's just too uncomfortable. I loved the book and I highly recommend it, but only if you're in the mood for something dark and emotionally challenging.

The Happy Couple by Samantha Hayes

Jo's husband has been missing for a year. He left the house one morning and was just gone without a trace. Except for the fact that Jo keeps seeing visions of him everywhere and having conversations with him. She's definitely an unreliable narrator and doesn't let us in on the fact that there actually is a reason Will might have run off until well into the book. It's hinted at on the back cover, but I almost never reread the description before starting the book.

After a friend convinces her that she needs to get away for a while and signs her up for a house sitting service, Jo sees a listing with pictures of her missing husband on the mantle. There's no question that the pictures are of Will. She took them herself.

The plot of this one twists and turns and despite a hard to accept coincidence or two, it was pretty entertaining.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Ecru Embroidery Floss on Navy Aida

Who would have guessed that I could be so happy stitching with a single color of embroidery floss? Definitely not me! 

After finishing Lobster Bouquet, I switched back to Flowers in a Window, a free download from Stone Street Stitchworks. It's amazing how much fun you can have with a piece of thrifted navy aida and a couple of skeins of ecru DMC.

This one is trickier and I've had to break out the highlighter because one flower or sprig of leaves is easy to mistake for another while I'm looking back and forth from the chart to the fabric.

There's definitely a big single color project in my stitching future, if I can just make up my mind which one. Long Dog Samplers and Ink Circles both have a lot of tempting possibilities.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {6/5/20}

Just a reminder that, for the moment at least, I've switched the Let's Make Baby Quilts linky party to the first Friday of the month. I've got plans that I hope I can get started on very soon, including some new tutorials. 

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

{I've Been Reading} The Boy in the Photo

The Fallen Girls by Kathryn Casey

After learning that one of her half sisters is missing, detective Clara Jeffries returns to the small town where she grew up. Life in Alber, Utah has changed drastically. Clara's mother, Ardeth, and Ardeth's sister wives have moved with their children from the house where Clara grew up into a run down trailer outside of town. They insist that the missing twelve-year-old is on a mission with a family in Salt Lake City, that nothing is wrong. Beyond that, they refuse to speak to Clara at all. But there are other missing girls, from families who insist that they're not missing at all, and a decomposing body is discovered in the cornfield behind the trailer and Clara isn't leaving town without answers.

I absolutely loved this one. I don't usually pick up books where the main character is involved with law enforcement because, somewhere along the line, I got the idea that police procedurals aren't my thing. This book kept me turning pages.  I can't wait for the next book in the series, but since this one was just published today I guess I'm going to have to be patient.

The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope

It's been six years since Megan went to pick up her son after school and learned that his father had picked him up earlier in the day. Her ex husband and son are gone and the authorities haven't been able to find a trace of either of them. For all that time, she's been hoping that Daniel will come back to her. Then one day the phone rings.

Daniel has walked into a police station, alone. There was a fire in the isolated shack where he was living with his father and now he's come back to her. The boy is Daniel. They'll do a DNA test to confirm that he's her missing son, but Megan doesn't question it for a moment. Her loving, happy six-year-old son had grown into a sullen, angry twelve-year-old who won't reveal much about the past six years.

This one kept me holding my breath. One of my hunches did turn out to be right, but there were still twists and revelations that I didn't see coming until the end.

One by One by D. W. Gillespie

Behind the wallpaper of the house her family just moved into, a young girl finds a drawing of a stick figure family -- mother, father, son, daughter, dog. Not long after that, the family cat goes missing and an X appears over the family pet in the drawing.

Creepy old houses absolutely appeal to me, especially when there seems to be something sinister and/or ghostly involved. Parts of this book really worked for me, like the "tangle of hallways" and Alice's discovery of an old diary and her fear of reading further. Other parts definitely fell flat.

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Lobster Bouquet

I absolutely adore this little piece! 

The pattern is Lobster Bouquet, a free download from Ink Circles. The fabric is something I bought with a coupon at Hobby Lobby. The floss is DMC #304.

This was my eighth Stitch Maynia start for this year and I kept picking it up again until it was finished. It's so addictive just to do one more flower petal or swirl or lobster claw.

I've been wanting to tackle a single color project by Long Dog Samplers. I thought I'd enjoy it, but after stitching this, I'm thoroughly convinced!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

{I've Been Reading} You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The description for this one is really sparse. The main character is unhappy with her life until she meets two sisters who pull her into their world of perfection. The book itself is apparently on a ton of "most anticipated" lists.  I picked it up because I loved The Wife Between Us by the same authors and I know I was drawn into An Anonymous Girl, even if the plot of that one has faded from my memory.

This book just wasn't for me. The plot is a slow burn, building up to a revelation of what's going on with the perfect sisters and their carefully chosen group of friends. I never managed to get more than mildly curious about their secrets.

Little Creeping Things by Chelsea Ichaso

It was the cover art and title that drew me to this one, before I realized that it was a young adult novel. That's one of the drawbacks of ebooks -- sometimes it's easy to expect the wrong thing.

Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire in her playhouse when she was a young child, killing her best friend. It wasn't her fault, but a decade later her classmates will never let her forget that she's "the fire girl." She's not really a killer. That detailed murder plan she wrote in her silver spiral bound notebook was just a joke...except someone seems to have followed it and the notebook is missing. Cassidy is afraid to go to the police with what she knows so she tries to find the killer on her own.

I didn't love this one. That cover and title had me expecting something much darker. It's not a bad book, just a kind of run-of-the-mill YA thriller that will probably appeal to a younger audience.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Someone Else's Creative Vision

Over the past couple of years, my daughter and I have seen one or two Mod Podged tabled at the Goodwill outlet. They're not even tempting. That's someone else's creative vision that doesn't match mine....and the person who had the vision must have changed their mind for it to wind up in the thrift store. 

This one was different. Not all of the images appeal to me, but if I was going to pick things to glue onto a bookshelf, a lot of these would work for me. 

Especially the Arizona Road Maps Tour Book. There are some book spines at the back of the lowest shelf that I didn't get in the picture, but they look just perfect, especially the way they're peeking out from other images.

There's a lot here that I don't recognize and a lot that I do.

My own reaction was that I could find an old piece of wooden furniture and make something like that someday. Maybe. Can't you just picture a shelf or cabinet with pictures cut out of old crafting books and magazines? Now that I think about it, I've got a couple of pieces of furniture that would make wonderful backgrounds for a project like that, along with stacks of old books and magazines. It's one of those projects that I could do, but probably won't.

The bookshelf from the thrift shop? That's at my house now  because my son shares the vision of whoever made it in the first place. And it really is a nice old piece of furniture under everything else.

Want to see the rest of our thrifting adventure? Just click below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

{I've Been Reading} Carpe Glitter

Carpe Glitter by Cat Rambo

Persephone Aim inherited her grandmother's houses. Not only was her grandmother a hoarder who added buildings to her property to hold all of her possessions, she was also a stage magician. I got happily lost in the pages of this novella and my only complaint is that I wish it was longer so I could have spent more time with Persephone, watching her sort through her grandmother's possessions. I think I would have loved this book just for its descriptions of old dresses shedding sequins like scales, but then there's the artifact that she discovers broken into pieces and hidden throughout the three houses. That's the point where Persephone realizes that there's a lot about her grandmother that she didn't know.

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

A mommy vlogger vanishes suddenly from the internet, all of her accounts deleted without warning or explanation. The online forums are buzzing with speculation. Instead of being the story of the missing influencer the book is about Lily and Yvonne, two of her obsessed fans.

I wanted to like this book and I did enjoy parts of it, but there are a lot of characters with alternating chapters and it was a struggle to figure out which ones were connected and how. More than once, I had to flip back a few pages to remind myself which character I was reading about. There's a message to all of this, about lying and oversharing and overstepping boundaries, and it's an interesting one. I kind of wish the book had spent more time exploring the members of the online forums than the histories of Lilly and Yvonne. 

My Husband's Lie by Emma Davies

When Thea gets the chance to move back to the old rectory she lived in as a child, she doesn't hesitate. She can already picture her daughters loving the big house as much as she did. Her husband, Drew, is a bit more hesitant, but he goes along with her plan. The husband and wife have been inseparable since they lived next door to one another as children. They're the perfect couple.

It's not long before Thea realizes that she's not welcome in her former home. Something happened  before her family moved away and she seems to be the only one in the dark about what it was.

Maybe I would have enjoyed this book more if I hadn't been expecting it to be a thriller (it's not) or if it had had a different title. The plot is interesting and the characters and their relationships are well developed, but I kept waiting for the awful event or revelation that never came.

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Ten Days into Stitch Maynia 2020

My plan was to post every day or two and show all of my new starts with all of the details. Obviously that isn't happening so far. 

But actually stitching is more important than writing about and photographing the stitching, right? I've been stitching a lot since the first of May....

That's nine starts in the first nine days, despite a low level three day migraine that I'm still trying to shake. I'm eager to keep working on most of these and trying to figure out what to start each day is keeping me from obsessing over masks and lock downs and how uncertain the future feels.

So I'll take that as a win, and  try to update more frequently as the days pass.

The projects are:

Mad Bluebird by Bucilla
Stitching ABC by Design Works
Stitching Lessons by Riolis 
Dollhouse Hutch by Bucilla 
Flowers in a Window by Stone Street Stitchworks (free download) 
Window With Magpie by Riolis 
Lobster Bouquet by Ink Circles  (free download) 
Thimbelina the Needlework Fairy by Lynne Nicoletti

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Stitch Maynia 2020

Stitch Maynia has finally started and on day six  I already have six of my possible thirty one starts. I'm extremely happy about that, but not quite happy and motivated enough to lay them all out and take pictures and fight with the photo editing software. There will be pictures soon. 

This is the first project, on the first day. I've picked him up three more times since then and made more progress and I'm absolutely loving this angry little bird. Isn't he the perfect quarantine stitching? 

The kit is Mad Bluebird by Bucilla. I picked him up at the thrift store because he was dirt cheap and looked like he might be be fun to stitch someday. Apparently that time has come. With the craft stores and thrift stores and estate sales either closed or off limits right now, I'm very grateful that I've had so many supplies and kits stashed for so long. It would take years for me to make a sizable dent, but I've got lots of choices and possibilities and Maynia is giving me a fantastic excuse to start a bunch of things.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {5/1/2020}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Today is Wednesday...

I only know that for sure because I looked at the calendar before starting this post. The days are blurring together and I still don't know if I'm coming or going.  I'm still tired. I'm still cranky. I'm starting to get excited about Stitch Maynia 2020 and hoping that my enthusiasm will hold for another couple of days until it's time to actually start.

I've finished projects that never got posted to the blog. I'll write posts for those soon, assuming that things stay calm. So far we're all healthy and  everyone in the family who was working before the pandemic started is still working. 

Since the last update, most of my progress has been on these two projects... 

The shawl is Jette Shawl, a free download from DROPS. It's  taking forever and ever, but that's a good thing right now. The long rows of garter stitch, which are getting steadily shorter as I decrease towards the point, are good for my nerves. I also picked up Furry Friends, a Riolis kit that I started for last year's Maynia and didn't make much progress at the time. It's been a good project to lose myself in for an hour or two at a time.

I've also  been reading a lot.


The Split by Sharon Bolton

As soon as the last boat of the season leaves the remote Antarctic island, she'll be safe. Felicity counts down the moments, waiting until she can be sure she's safe from her ex-husband. She's fled as far as she can possibly get but still she watches and worries, certain that he'll come after her.

I picked this one up because the setting is so different from anything I've read in a domestic thriller before. The parts of the book that are set on the island are interesting, but the the plot quickly jumps back to the months before Felicity's arrival on South Georgia and at that point my attention started to wander. I know the reader isn't supposed to know everything that's going on, but it wasn't the entertaining kind of confusion, it was just....confusing.... I'm glad I stuck with it to the end because things definitely pick up again over the last few chapters.

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy of The Split. This post contains affiliate links. 


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