Thursday, July 22, 2021

{I've Been Reading} This is How It Ends

 


This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan 

Only a few residents remain in the once crowded apartment building, refusing the developer's offers to buy them out, knowing that their days there are numbered. A party in the building ends with a man's body in one of the vacant units and two of the protesters disposing of him down an elevator shaft. Its bleak setting sets this thriller apart from others I've read. The plot moves slowly, but it's definitely got atmosphere. 

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

Thursday, July 15, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Her Sister's Secret

 

 

 Her Sister's Secret by S. E. Lynes 

A late night call from her nephew brings Isla running. All she knows is that there was a fire, that her sister and her sister's new husband are dead, and that Callum needs her. Isla quickly realizes that she didn't know much at all about her sister's marriage or her new life. Things weren't as perfect as  they appeared from a distance.

I loved this domestic thriller with its intriguing plot and fun little details that kept me immersed in the book. The story unfolds with Isla in the present and Annie's recent past leading up to the days just before the fire.  

 

The Perfect Father by Charlotte Duckworth

When Esther receives a text message from her husband that just reads "sorry" and comes home to find an empty house, she's panicked. Robin has stayed home to care for their daughter since her birth and, after an extremely difficult pregnancy, Esther was grateful that he did. Now he's left with their two-year-old and she's filled with questions. 

This is one of those books where the narrator is deliberately withholding information from the reader. Almost immediately, we discover that Robin wasn't a perfect father or husband. The plot jumps between the past and present and chapters alternate between husband and wife. It was interesting, but everything important had happened long before that text message and I never felt a real sense of urgency or suspense. 

   

 What She Knew by Miranda Rijks

When a researcher approaches her for an interview about her college roommate, Stephanie's husband advises her not to speak to him. He doesn't want her dredging up bad memories. It's been almost ten years. Allison's presumed murderer is behind bars even though her body was never found. There's an explanation for why Stephanie didn't ask more questions at the time, but it seems like at some point between then and now she would've started to wonder more about what happened. 

I didn't love this one. It had me reaching for the dictionary twice in the first few chapters. I didn't have that reaction to The Visitors or The Influencer, so I'm guessing that it was supposed to be the protagonist's educated vocabulary.   I didn't really warm up to Stephanie although until the plot started to unfold. Near the end of  the book, things got much more interesting. 
 

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

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

{I've Been Reading}


Antiques Carry On by Barbara Allan 

Brandy and Vivian Bourne are off to London to meet with their new editor, squabbling as usual. In addition to the meeting, they've got some touristy stuff planned and an errand to visit a local antique dealer...and that's where things start to very wrong and the authorities become involved. 

This is the kind of fast paced fun that I've come to expect from this series. Brandy and Vivian are still bickering with each other (and their editor) and Vivian has a new informant that's crazy even for her. 

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


Friday, July 02, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {July 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!

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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

{I've Been Reading} A Glimmer of a Clue

 

 A Glimmer of a Clue by Daryl Wood Gerber

The second book in the Fairy Garden mystery series is filled with  fairies and plants and lots of fun atmosphere...and an extremely competitive pickleball player who winds up stabbed to death with a letter opener from one of Courtney's fairy gardens. I actually enjoyed this one more than the first book, but I couldn't tell you whether that's because it's a better mystery or because I've had some time to get used to the idea of actual sparkly fairies in a cozy mystery. It's a fun read and if you're curious about making a fairy garden it will give you lots of ideas. 

Draw and Order by Cheryl Hollon

Miranda Trent makes her living leading cultural excursions that pair outdoor painting lessons with traditionally distilled moonshine and local cuisine. Her day trip with the Risky Business Adventurers is cut short by the discovery of skeletal remains near the trailhead and Miranda is afraid that the bones belong to her missing cousin. The second Paint & Shine mystery is almost as fun as the first. The discovery of the skeleton and the events that follow are wonderfully atmospheric and creepy. If there's anything I dislike about the book it's Miranda's constantly voiced opinion that men don't like taking orders from women. I think it's more than possible that the ones she's having trouble with are just jerks.... I'll be looking forward to the next book in the series.  

 

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor 

Two years ago Fran's sister, Jenna, vanished at a Soul Shrink wellness retreat. Now self help guru Tom Wade has been released from prison and Fran is signing up for his first retreat, determined to find out what  he's been hiding. Two guests died in the sweat lodge, but Jenna's body was never found. Fran and her family want answers. 

I had a hard time keeping track of the complicated web of relationships. There are a lot of characters,   both in the past and the present. Fran is using an alias, so when other characters are referring to her, she's got a different name...and it gets more confusing than that, but I don't want to risk spoilers. For me, the most intriguing part was Tom's relationship with his wife. I found myself more interested in the future of Soul Shrink than in what happened to Jenna. 





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

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Lovebirds

I finished a thing! With all the stitching I've done over the past few months, there haven't been many finishes because most of my current projects are HUGE. 

Who would have guessed that I could have so much fun stitching with just one color? 
 

This is Lovebirds by Autumn Lane Stitchery, from the February 2021 issue of Just Cross Stitch. The pattern calls for pink fabric, which looks absolutely lovely, but I had a piece of blue aida from the thrift store and it contrasted well with the white, so that's what I used. I stitched with three strands of floss so that the stitching would stand out more against the background fabric and there's a bit of backstitching in a matching shade of blue that adds some delicate detailed touches.  


Our wedding date is hidden in that bottom flower, just the month and day. This isn't a wedding sampler, because I didn't want this project to be the wedding sampler forever and ever...its just a little piece to commemorate thirty years of marriage. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Tell Me When You Feel Something

 

 


This one starts with a tragedy and then reveals the events that led up to the night of  the party. Viv and her friends work at the local med school as simulated patients. Before each shift, they study scripts and are made as if they have different diseases or injuries. Under all of that makeup, Viv is concealing real symptoms and hurtling towards the night where she'll overdose at a party. There's video of Viv swallowing the pill, along with a roomful of witnesses. But no one has any idea where she got the drugs or if her overdose was deliberate. After a slow start, this one really picks up speed and by the end I was filled with mounting dread. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Hive

 

The Hive by Gregg Olsen

A murder investigation leads to Marnie Spellman, the founder of a cult like cosmetics empire. Marnie claims that when she was a child, a swarm of bees lifted her into the air and spoke to her. That miraculous encounter led her to create her company and surround herself with a closely guarded inner circle of confidantes. This book sounded right up my alley, but I had a hard time slogging through it. Marnie and the bees are introduced in a brief prologue, then we don't hear anything else about her backstory until nearly a quarter of the way through the book...and that story is what made me pick it up in the first place. There's a lot of other stuff going on and eventually most of it ties together, but I didn't enjoy this one.  

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

Friday, June 04, 2021

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {June 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 26, 2021

{I've Been Reading} The Photographer

 

 

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

Delta Dawn carefully creates perfect memories of children's parties even when she has to tweak the images a bit to get the effect she wants. She's worked hard distance herself from her own childhood and to make herself blend in with her clients. After photographing little Natalie Straub's party, Dawn realizes that she wants to become part of their perfect family and starts working to make that happen, first offering to babysit, then gradually making herself indispensable to the family.  

A single sentence early on reveals that Delta isn't the nice young woman she presents herself as. She's not particularly likeable, but she's definitely fascinating to read about as she puts her plan in motion. 



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

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

{I've Been Reading} Hush Little Baby

 


Hush Little Baby by R. H. Herron 

How many times have I told you that I love domestic thrillers? This one is fantastic. It opens with obstetrician Jillian Marsh delivering a baby and, in that first chapter, I really wished I'd had a doctor like her when I was expecting. It's quickly revealed that Jillian has problems. She's a recovering alcoholic who, years earlier, showed up for a shift drunk, with disastrous results. A decade after she successfully turned her life around, her  wife, Rochelle,  is leaving her for another woman, while Jillian is heavily pregnant with Rochelle's biological baby. And unsettling things keep happening at home. The baby journal is missing, then reappears in a place she'd already looked more than once. Her favorite kitchen knife is gone without a trace, then appears in the soil of a potted plant. Jillian has a strong support group of friends but even they are starting to think that she's just suffering from a case of baby brain or pregnancy fog. Pregnancy can leave you extremely vulnerable and the author does a fantastic job of capturing that. 

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


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. 

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