Wednesday, February 24, 2021

{I've Been Reading} A Side of Murder


A Side of Murder by Amy Pershing

The first Cape Cod Foodie Mystery opens with a huge infodump, telling the reader all about the protagonist's childhood home and her friends and how crushed shell driveways are made... and it immediately turned me off. I didn't care about any of that, but as soon as the book got to the present and what was actually happening now I warmed up to Samantha Barnes and her surroundings and friends. Now I'm wishing this was an established series so that I could jump right into the next book. Samantha had left Cape Cod years ago to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional chef. It was all going well until that last blowup with her now ex-husband went viral on YouTube. Now she's inherited a dilapidated house and a huge puppy and is writing restaurant reviews while she tries to figure out what comes next. What happens is that she discovers a dead body. I love the characters, the setting, the complex mystery, the chemistry between Samantha and her first love who is now the harbormaster. And I absolutely can't wait for the next book.


Flowers of Darkness by Tatiana de Rosnay 

I thought this one was right up my alley -- a thriller about a writer moving into an apartment in a high tech apartment building. It's the type of book I gravitate towards but this one just felt slow. And confusing. It's set in Paris in the near future and is deliberately vague about things like "the attack" until chapters later when it finally reveals what was attacked, but not by who. There are no more bees, or gardens....I guess due to global warming? But that's all a vague background to the events of Clarissa's life. Her too-good-to-be-true apartment is starting to make her uncomfortable. Maybe if I was more familiar with the works of Virginia Woolf or had ever heard of Romain Gary I would have appreciated the book more. Instead, I'm left wondering why someone would knowingly move into an apartment filled with cameras and then decide that being watched is sinister.  


Posession by Katie Lowe 

Hannah remembers almost nothing about the night her husband was murdered. Ten years have passed. The killer is in jail. She's built a new life for herself and things are going well...until a true crime podcast begins covering the case, questioning whether the man convicted of her husband's murder did it or maybe Hannah herself was responsible. 

There's a lot going on in Hannah's life and the book jumps back and forth from before her husband's death to the present day. She visits the former asylum where her own grandmother spent time, works at an in-patient treatment facility for young women with eating disorders, sees visions of her dead husband critiquing her actions, and listens to each new episode of the podcast with her new lover and her now teenage daughter. As public opinion against her worsens, she steadily unravels. 

It took me a while to get through this one, although my interest picked up once I thought I knew what turns the plot was taking. (My guesses were wrong.) 

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Wrecked



 Wrecked by Mary Anna Evans

Faye Longchamp and her husband Joe are doing  everything they can to help their friends and neighbors recover from the latest hurricane. Their own island home was mostly spared, but there are lots of people who weren't as lucky and as long as the two are able they're spending their days checking on people and bringing them water and needed supplies. Joe has been using his new drone to capture pictures of the damage and one of the images shows something underwater that Faye hopes might be a shipwreck that was exposed by the storm. When the body of her good friend, Captain Edward Eubank, is discovered in the marina wearing scuba gear and tanks it makes no sense. None of his friends have heard him talk about diving, so what happened to him?  

I've only managed to read three books from this series so far, but I love spending time with Faye. There's a lot going on in this book and even though I know I'm missing some important details that I want to catch up on later, I never feel lost. The characters and their lives are wonderfully detailed and Mary Anna Evans really makes me care about the people she's created. 

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

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Just One More Page Kindle Sleeve

 his cross stitch design makes me happy. I love the feeling of sitting up late at night and being so excited by a book that I can't bring myself to put it down. More often than not, especially if it's late at night, that means I'm reading on my Kindle or the Kindle app on my phone because when I'm too sleepy to read another word, all I have to do is click a button. 

The pattern is Just One More Page and it's a free download from Night Spirit Studio, the same designer who did the Self Isolating Bat and Plague Nurse that I stitched last year. I've had it printed out for a while, but probably wouldn't have stitched it yet if my friend Amy hadn't suggested a stitch along...and once it was stitched it was so pretty that I decided I could really use another Kindle sleeve. 

There's a video if you want to see how I did the finishing...

Friday, February 12, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Night Swim


The Night Swim by Megan Goldin 

For the third season of her true crime podcast, Rachel Grall chose a story that she knew would generate conversation and conflict. It's a rape case and the trial is still ongoing. She's living out of a hotel room, gathering information and condensing it into episodes she hopes will entertain her listeners. One of those listeners has written to her twice and started leaving notes on her car, desperate to get Rachel's attention.

Enjoyed isn't the word for how I felt about this book. I was fascinated, and anxious to find out what had actually happened. Parts of the book are absolutely heartbreaking and I found myself wishing I had the power to make things better for the fictional characters. Rape plays a huge role in the plot and it's absolutely brutal...not the description of the act itself as much as the effect it has on the victim.  If that's something you prefer to avoid reading about, you might want to skip this one. 


The Project by Courtney Summers 

Lo Denham lost her parents, and almost her own life, to a tragic car accident. She lost her older sister, Bea, to The Unity Project, a religious group that's known for its public outreach and good works. Now, Lo is determined to reunite with Bea and find out why her sister abandoned her after the accident. As intrigued as I am by cults, I couldn't get into this one. The plot builds slowly and some questions are never answered. 

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

Friday, February 05, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {February 2021}


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

Friday, January 08, 2021

Changing Plans and Adding Plans and Kind of Just Not Planning

Towards the end of the summer (which never felt like summer at all because we were so busy with lockdowns and wildfires and all the rest of it), my idea was to finish as many projects as possible so I could plunge into Maynia and start a whole slew of new projects without any guilt. I don't tend to feel guilty about new starts, but it seemed like a good idea. 

I didn't finish projects. Not even the little one that I could've done in an evening. But it's not May yet, either. 

Now it's January and I'm starting new things left and right. There are THREE stich alongs that I'm plunging into. 

My friend, Amy, messaged one night and asked if I'd like to SAL Just One More Page from Night Spirit Studio with her. It's a free chart that I'd already planned on stitching. I had the fabic and floss already. Or course the  answer was an enthusiastic yes. 

Riolis is doing a stitchalong, #stitching_stories_with_RIOLIS, with a gorgeous kit promised to everyone who completes the requirements. My stash is full of their kits, so why wouldn't I participate? 

I've been wanting to start a big, ambitious, single color project. I was thinking something from Long Dog Samplers, probably Pandemic because I've got the chart for that one already...then someone told me about a project he was working on by GallianaCrossStitch. That was a company I hadn't heard of before and I Googled and found the etsy shop and fell in love with The Bookcase (and The Welsh Dresser and The Stitching Shelves) and it turns out that there's a SAL for that one just starting....

That's three new starts, two of them fairly huge. I think I'm just going to do Maynia in January. Which doesn't mean I can't do it again in May if I decide to. There are too many things to worry about right now without worrying about how many projects are in my tracker. 

The very nice people at Riolis offered to send me one of their new kits if I'd do an unboxing video. Of course the answer to that was yes and now I'm watching the post office box for Distant Shores to arrive. 

Remember when I saw that estate sale and decided I needed a big picture of  a sailing ship for my own kitchen?  I promise, I almost definitely won't hang it in my kitchen when/if I get the whole thing stitched. 

There's also another kit I ordered during a Black Friday sale and everything I've already got going and, like I said, I know that other things will catch my eye. But sitting and stitching, even if it's way too many projects that will take an unthinkable number of hours, has to be better than sitting and staring at the walls and worrying about the state of the world. So I think I'll try to do that. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Jane walks dogs for the rich women of Thornfield estates, occasionally helping herself to bits of jewelry that she's sure won't be missed. When she meets Eddie Rochester -- and he's so smitten that the next day he buys a dog so he'll need a dog walker -- she quickly seizes the opportunity to move into the gated community herself, leaving behind her roommate and everything from their shared apartment. There's nothing from her past that she wants to bring into her perfect new life.

Her new life isn't perfect. Jane knows that everyone is comparing her to Eddie's dead wife, Bea, who was tragically lost in a boating accident only a year earlier. The house and neighborhood are full of reminders of Bea's presence, especially all of  the home decor from the company Bea founded. It fills her new home and the homes of their neighbors. There's also someone from Jane's own past that she can't quite get rid of.

I still haven't managed to read Jane Eyre, so I can't tell you how this compares to the original, but it was a fast paced domestic thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This one is a chilling, fast paged domestic thriller. As soon as Georgina finds her son sucking on a lollipop he didn't have moments earlier she knows that something is wrong. He tells her it was a gift from "New Granny," a woman he met at the park while he was playing in the bushes. Georgina's husband insists that Cody's imaginary friend is just that -- imaginary. There are lots of places a little boy could get his hands on a piece of candy and they both know that their son misses his real grandmother, who recently passed away. I love that this story is told from beginning to end, all from Georgina's point of view as she tries to figure out if "New Granny" is a real person or if her sanity is starting to slip again. Her thoughts frequently stray to "The shadows. The clock. The Stuffed animal." and I felt like it took a bit too long before she finally explained that to the reader. 

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

Monday, January 04, 2021

Excuses and Explanations

To say that 2020 was a rough year is such an unimaginable understatement...

For our household, it started with a broken fridge. Then bigger things happened. Then the virus hit. We've been lucky on that front. No jobs lost, no one in the house or our little extended family sick, although we've been exposed and had to hunker down more than once. 

In March, I was on my way home from dropping my son off at work and hit deer. TWO deer, because it's 2020. Not long after, my daughter's husband hit a deer and shortly after that his parents hit a deer -- all on the same stretch of highway where none of us has seen deer in that area except for the ones that wrecked our cars.  

I started driving my daughter's little Subaru that she'd parked it in the barn for one of her brothers to grow into. By summer, I was driving with the heat on full and  the windows down to keep it from overheating, but the only places I could go were to dive my son to work and do some grocery shopping, so we kept muddling through.

There was a whole lot of "just muddling through" in 2020. 

Then there were the wildfires. We live beside the highway. The first day, it was nothing but horse trailers as people moved their livestock. The next day it was equipment, tractors and boats and classic cars...  Every neighbor we talked to was either packing up or heading out. We made plans for who was riding in which car. I had nightmares about what was going to happen if traffic on the Interstate was backed up and the Subaru, which couldn't idle in a drive through on its best days, overheated. 

That hypothetical "what would you grab in a fire" took on whole new meaning. I now know what I'd grab immediately.  And what I'd take in the second and  third loads as the fire was steadily burning in our direction. At its closest, the Holiday Farm fire was six or seven miles from our house. I made the mistake of looking at Google Earth and confirming that there was nothing between us and the fire but dry fields and timber.

It finally rained and we felt safe enough to return out belonging to the house. The Subaru reached its expected end and I now have a reliable car. Which is great, but I can't go much of anywhere.  Last week, the drama was flooding. Not enough to reach the house, but enough to make me seriously nervous as I watched the water rising towards the road.  I know what will happen when the stream floods, but the water has never gone over the road before. It didn't this time, either, but it was unnervingly close. 

I've been too stressed to stitch, too stressed to knit (seriously -- how is that even a thing?!) and definitely too stressed to write regular blog posts. I also realize that even with everything that did happen, we've been amazingly lucky. 

Over the past few weeks, I've tried to stitch and knit, but my nerves are absolutely shot. Yesterday was better. I spent a couple of happy hours stitching cheese and started a new project. There are actually three SALs I want to start in January and I've got a couple of other things in mind. If life cooperates, I'll be posting about them. 

Friday, January 01, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {January 2021}


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


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