Friday, May 07, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {May 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

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Vanishing Fleece: Adventures in American Wool

 

 


Unless I'm knitting socks or a particular style of lace shawl, I tend to knit with synthetic fibers. That knitterly love of wool, for the most part, escapes me. Despite that, Vanishing Fleece sounded like something I'd enjoy reading. I might not knit exclusively with wool, but I can vicariously enjoy it by reading about knitters who do. 

The author purchases a bale of fleece, splits it into four parts, and follows it through the production process by working with four different mills. It was easy to get caught up in her enthusiasm, but my interest didn't hold through the entire book.  

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Until I Find You

Until I Find You by Rea Frey 

What would happen if a mother reached down into her three-month-old son's crib and discovered that the baby lying there was not her own? What if none of her friends noticed the subtle differences that made it so obvious to her? What if no  one believed the blind widow at all? I absolutely loved this domestic thriller. Rebecca is such a likeable character and the author did such a  great job of pulling me into her world. The ending fell a bit flat, but the journey to get there had me holding my breath the whole time. 



My Little Girl by Shalini Boland

A little girl is missing, vanished from the fair she was visiting with her grandmother and a little friend. One moment she was there, her red dress reflected over and over in the mirrors of the funhouse....then her grandmother's phone rang and there was no harm in answering as long as the children were within sight...

Claire is furious. Her husband was supposed to be watching the girls, not sending them off with his mother. Instead he changed plans without telling her and, while Claire was getting ready for a girls night out, their daughter was taken. 

The book begins just moments before Beatrice's disappearance and alternates between Claire and her mother-in-law. There's been tension building between the two women for quite a while and it seems like the older woman is only making things worse. It's an entertaining, fast paced thriller, but I feel like the ending was drawn out a bit longer than it needed to be. 

The Influencer by Miranda Rijks

When internet celebrity, Skye, swoops in and announces that she will be to promoting Sacha's Sanctuary, the charity he established in the name of his late wife, Nathan is quickly overwhelmed. His two teenage daughters idolize the woman, and her endorsement is bringing in huge donations, so he goes along with her plans. After all, his whole goal is to help the homeless and that's what they're doing. Skye lacks boundaries and is causing all kinds of chaos in his home life, but maybe it's all worth it? The book alternates between the present and Skye's past as a homeless teenager and it's a fast paced, fun thriller that kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. 

 

Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder 

I didn't know what I was getting into with this book. I was expecting some sort of domestic thriller, maybe because I have a bad habit of skimming the cover copy to see if anything catches my eye. A young mother moves to Geneva with her husband and two young children. Her husband is always working and she is left alone in their rented apartment with the little ones for days and weeks at a time, slowly unravelling. On the day they move in, the grey walls make her feel like they're protected inside an oyster shell. Not much later, "we could have been the pulpy carcasses of goats swallowed whole by a crocodile." If The Yellow Wallpaper had been the story of a stay at home mother, this would be it. If I have a complaint about this one (other than the fact that the narrator only refers to her children and husband by their first initials) it's that nothing much happens. A woman unravels at an increasing rate and the whole thing is described by some gorgeous prose...but that's it.

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


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Smithy

 

Smithy by Amanda Desiree 

Set in 1974, in a run down mansion, this book immediately caught my interest. Surrounded by the palatial summer homes of the ultra wealthy, a group of college students are conducting a research experiment with a young chimpanzee. He's been raised in a family setting and now they'll be teaching him sign language in an effort to document his intelligence and his ability to communicate. Last used as a private boarding school, most of the large building has been sealed off due to safety concerns. It's dark and creaky and prone to unexplained fires that they blame on the old wiring. Told through letters and research videos and excerpts from books written long after the actual events, the story build slowly. Once the worst happened, it wasn't as nightmarish as I'd expected it to be, but the book itself was interesting enough that I didn't mind that it never got actually scary. 

 

It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan 

Sam has lived her entire life in Wakefield, a decaying mansion built by her ancestors at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. The rotting hallways and rooms shift and change. The building is filled with ghosts. Sam and her mother and her sister, Liz, have always known that. They speak softly so that they won't have to hear their conversations repeated later...because they are surrounded not only by the ghosts of the dead, but by apparitions their own younger selves.   It took me a while to figure out what was going on in the house, but once I did understand how the hauntings and apparitions worked,  I started to enjoy the book a lot more. There's cruelty, which I found hard to read, and a lot of dense, elaborate descriptive prose, but once the plot really picked up, it gave me chills. 

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

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

{I've Been Reading} You Love Me


You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes 

There's a third book in the You series by Caroline Kepnes and I couldn't wait to start reading it. Joe has left New York and California behind for a small town in the Pacific Northwest where he's fallen for a very nice librarian. They'll be perfect together and he's planning their future as a couple and for a brief moment it's easy to almost forget who and what he is. I felt like the book got off to a slow start, but once things started to get complicated it got very interesting very fast and I couldn't put it down.  

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

Friday, April 02, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {April 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

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Bodies and Bows

 

 

 Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penny

Apron Shop owner Iris Buckley is as busy as ever, interviewing potential new employees for the shop and helping her grandmother on a committee to convert a local lighthouse into a museum...and trying to clear her best friend's name after a local hero is run over and killed on his morning run. 

I adore the Apron Shop mysteries and, while I didn't get as emotionally attached to the newly introduced characters as I did to the ones in the second book, the mystery in this one had me coming up with all kinds of theories. (Part of one was even right this time!)

  

The Blessed Bones by Kathryn Casey 

After the discovery of human bones at a construction site, police chief Clara Jeffries realizes that the biggest challenge might be identifying the victim, a young pregnant woman. Several local girls have gone missing over the past few years, but their families refuse to cooperate with law enforcement.  I absolutely love this series. This book gives us a little more information than we've had before about Clara's past. She also spends  more time with her mothers and her siblings. Like the other books in the series, the crimes are disturbing and I found myself really hurting for the characters. The crimes and motives feel more serious and real than in the cozy mystery series I usually read. 


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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Lost Village

 The Lost Village by Camilla Sten 

One day in 1959, the residents of an isolated mining town vanished, taking nothing with them and leaving no trace of where they might have gone. Only a newborn baby and a battered body, tied to a wooden post in the town square and surrounded by stones, remained. Alice Lindstet has spent her entire life hearing her grandmother's stories about the tragedy and is raising funds for a documentary project that she hopes will solve the mystery. She and her film crew have only a few days to explore the village and put together the video they'll need for their fundraising proposals. 

The Lost Village is a wonderfully creepy read. The book's description compares it to The Blair Witch Project and Midsommar (which is exactly why I picked it up) but I also saw elements of The Lottery.  A few elements are familiar, but if the film crew wasn't isolated, they'd just walk away as soon as they realize that something is wrong. The plot alternates between what is happening with Alice and her friends in the present and the events leading up to the disappearance in 1959. It's suspenseful and sad  and kept me turning pages until the end. 

 


This was something different. It's a ghost story told in episodes, written by a team of writers. The publisher's site explains what they're doing here. I went into it expecting a traditionally written book and maybe that's why it fell flat for me. The first episode completely swept me in, with an intriguing heroine and setting and a genuinely chilling moment that I didn't expect. I loved that first chapter, but after that it was just a gothic romance set in a haunted house. I was more intrigued by the vendors selling souvenirs outside the gates than I was by the ghosts. I imagine that it works better as an audiobook (the first episode is up on Youtube here) or for someone who wants to make their way through books at a measured pace. The Amazon link seems to be for the first episode. After that, you'll have to go to the publisher's site.

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

{I've Been Reading} What my Husband Did

 

What My Husband Did by Kerry Wilkinson


A neighbor comes to Maddy's door, asking her to call the police because he's just found the body of twelve-year-old Alice lying in a stream. As the little girl clings to life in her hospital bed, more and more questions are being asked -- most importantly, where is Maddie's husband and why was Alice seen getting into his car that night?  

This domestic thriller gets off to a slow start, mixing in chapters about an incident from Maddy's childhood. Once the plot actually started to twist, it held my interest and I felt like the ending was worth the read. 

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

Friday, March 05, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {March 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

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Forget Me Not

 

 

 Forget Me Not by Alexandra Oliva

The description of this one intrigued me even before I realized that it was by the same author as The Last One. I was curious about a little girl raising herself and then escaping the walled off property to the outside world...but this book begins after she's grown up. Set in the near future, it has just enough unfamiliar technology to constantly remind the reader of that...and not quite enough information about Linda's past to keep things interesting. Once she returns to her childhood home it picks up pace. I was more interested in Linda as an almost feral child than I was by her adult life and virtual reality games. 

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


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. 




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