Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Playing Nice by J. P. Delaney
Pete Riley opens the door one afternoon to two strangers and the news that his two-year-old son isn't actually his child. Two infants were switched in the NICU.
All of those words that other thrillers put in their descriptions -- thrilling, unputdownable, gripping, harrowing -- definitely apply to this book. I did a lot of cringing and holding my breath and worrying about what was going to happen as the relationship between the two sets of parents went from amicable to uncomfortable to downright dangerous.
I can't recommend this one enough if you're into domestic thrillers that explore parenting.
Believe Me by J. P. Delaney
Drama student Claire Wright finds herself working for a divorce lawyer, entrapping cheating husbands in hotel bars. It pays the bills and she's good at the job, seeing her interactions as a script in her own mind. The whole thing is an easy performance, until she finds herself tangled up in a murder investigation and working with the police in an even more dangerous role.
One of the things I like most about JP Delaney is that the books are all so wildly different. This one plunges you into the world of Baudelaire's poetry. The plot gets weird, then it gets weirder, and eventually one of the twists near the end completely lost me...but it was an entertaining read.
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
I hate to admit that I've never actually read anything by Jane Austen....but I am fascinated by the history of needlework and was happy to have the chance to take a look at Jane Austen Embroidery: Regency Patterns Reimagined for Modern Stitchers by Jennie Batchelor and Alison Larkin. You don't have to be familiar with Jane Austen's work to absolutely love this book.
The patterns are adapted from originals that appeared in The Lady's Magazine in the late 1700s. Since most of us aren't likely to be creating sprigged muslin gowns or embroidered waistcoats, the patterns have been transformed into cell phone cases and tablet sleeves, along with a housewife and some other sewing accessories.
Even more than the patterns, I love the chapters explaining the original magazines and the needlework being done at the time. For the first time in my life, I actually know what "sprigged muslin" is. And I plan on researching map samplers, because as much as I've read and heard about different types of samplers I wasn't familiar with those.
All of the projects include detailed finishing instructions. The book doesn't assume that you have much, if any, stitching experience so there are stitch guides and explanations of the materials and tools needed.
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. This post contains affiliate links.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there's got to be a way through it." The quote is from Michael J. Fox and Michelle from Bendy Stitchy Designs created the sampler as part of a fundraiser for Parkinson's back in January. The things we're trying to get through have changed since I bought the chart, and changed since I started stitching the chart, and I'm sure they'll change again before I'm finished.
I'm still here, still stitching and knitting and making plans for quilts. I've finished some things but I haven't worked up the energy and enthusiasm to take pictures and write posts. A little bit of it is on my Instagram feed, but there are more projects I've finished and tucked into drawers and forgotten.
I've got pictures of my daughter's new house to show you -- she bought a time capsule house complete with a rotary phone on the kitchen wall and all the 1970s decor from my childhood and then immediately brought things up to date because nobody wants matted shag green carpet that's still holding almost fifty years of cigarette smoke.
I wrecked the minivan and a couple of weeks later my son in law totaled their new car on the same exact stretch of highway. No people were hurt, but we all hate deer now. And we're not too fond of whoever sideswiped their brand new car in the grocery store parking lot and took off.
We're still here, still healthy, and I'm trying to find a way back into the rhythm of posting on the blog.
Down in Flames by Cheryl Hollon
Savannah is teaching her students flame-working, a complicated technique that they can use to create glass beads. As always, we get a vicarious lesson in working with glass. That chance to learn about a craft I'm unlikely to tackle in real life is one of my favorite elements of this series, along with the cast of characters I always enjoy spending more time with. As her students are leaving the building, Savannah hears a thud and a scream. A hit and run driver has struck a pedestrian, leaving no evidence at the scene.
Unlike many cozy mysteries, where the victim is someone unpleasant or barely known to the protagonist, this murder hits close to home. The grief is real, and it's intense. I highly recommend this one.
Lies by T. M. Logan
Joe turning into a hotel parking garage after spotting his wife's car, intending to surprise her and let their young son show her the award he got at school that morning. Within minutes he's let another man unconscious and bloody in the parking lot and his life is beginning to unravel. I liked that the entire book is told fist person from Joe's point of view, with no jumping back and forth in time. From the moment he follows his wife into the parking garage, the plot is moving forward. It bogged down for me a bit in the middle, just as I think things were supposed to be escalating for the reader, but overall it was an enjoyable read.
The Bone Jar by SW Kane
The body of an elderly woman is found in a condemned asylum and even before the autopsy confirms that she was murdered, the authorities have no idea how she could have gotten into the old building.
Police procedurals aren't usually my thing, but this one includes a derelict asylum and urban exploration. Those are the sort of thing that always catches my interest and I found myself really enjoying the book. The setting is seriously creepy and most of the characters are intriguing, especially the former patient who still lives on the asylum grounds. I did get two of the characters confused near the end of the book.
Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
The Safe Place by Anna Downes
Emily is at the end of her rope. She's just lost her temporary job as a receptionist because she was absent too many times, going to acting auditions that don't work out. She's been evicted from her awful little apartment. Her adoptive parents won't loan her any more money... Then, out of the blue, she gets the offer for a job that seems too wonderful and perfect to be true.
The owner of the company she was just fired from wants her to work at his remote estate in France. His wife, Nina, needs an assistant, someone to help with her projects and some light housework and free up more time for Nina to spend with their daughter who has severe issues with her health.
Something is wrong on the property, something more sinister than the underlying reek of mold that fills the two houses, or the fact that distance and the lack of phone reception completely cuts them off from the outside world. But Emily is able to ignore that as she enjoys long afternoons by the pool sharing bottles of wine and enjoying Nina's fantastic cooking. Nina has created a haven for her little family and Emily is happy to be there with them until the signs that something is very wrong become too blatant for her to ignore.
I enjoyed this one. Emily, despite the fact that she can't keep her life together and is a little too snoopy for her own good at times, is a likable heroine. Nina obviously has problems, but I never guessed at what she and her husband were hiding. And the setting is fantastic, something different from the domestic thrillers I usually read.
The New Husband by D. J. Palmer
A year after the disappearance of her husband, Simon steps into Nina's life and she finds herself falling in love again. Simon is attentive and caring, Compared to the things she now knows about her first husband he's absolutely perfect, and he wants to build a life with Nina and her two teenage children.
Nina might have blinders on, but her daughter sees lots of red flags. The plot gets off to an almost painfully slow start, but about halfway through things suddenly get a whole lot more interesting. After that point, it's definitely a page turner. I'm glad I stuck with it.
The School Friend by Alison James
Lucy and Adele have a secret. They've never revealed the details of what happened at the reservoir that afternoon when they went out with another girl and only the two of them made it back home. But that's not what this book is actually about, despite what the cover copy implies. The secret that Adele and Lucy share is important, but it pales in comparison to what Lucy is dealing with right now.
The level of suspense in this one is high and I was holding my breath as the plot twisted and the situation got steadily worse. Lucy is in an abusive marriage and the details of her situation were hard to read about as it went from bad to worse. I went into this one expecting the focus to be on what Lucy and Adule had done as children, but that's revealed over the course of a few flashbacks. (The title of this one has changed since I received my review copy, which was titled The Friendship Pact.)
Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an ARC. This post contains affiliate links.
Friday, July 03, 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.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
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.