Swear On This Life

Swear On This Life: a novel by Renee Carlino. New York: Atria Paperback, 2016. 303 pages. ****

Emiline is stalled in her writing and is working as an adjunct instructor at UC San Diego when her roommate raves about a bestselling novel from unknown author, J. Colby, and urges her to read it. Emiline reluctantly starts it only to discover that it is the story of her life! The mysterious J. Colby must be her childhood friend and first love, Jase. How dare he write the story of her unhappy, desperate childhood and from her point of view. Emiline only has one choice to find her childhood friend whom she hasn't seen in over a decade and to confront her past.

Carlino drew me in from the very beginning, Emiline's story is compelling and heartwrenching. Told in alternating voices lends authenticity to this emotional tale of lost love and friendship. Do we each have that "one person" in our life or are there many for different stages of our life? Whatever the answer, Carlino tugged at my emotions and had me cheering for Jase and Emiline to be reunited. I won't give away any more of the story, but if you enjoyed Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, you will love this one too.

I received a copy for a review.

Renee Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere but Here, After the Rain, and Before We Were Strangers. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog, June. To learn more, visit Renee Carlino.

#SRC2016 #bestsummerever @BookSparks


Amish Quilts

Amish Quilts: Giftable Inspiration Along With Quilting Tips. Featuring the Photography of Richard Brunstetter Sr. With Inspiration from Wanda E. Brunstetter. Ohio: Shiloh Run Press, 2016. *****

Wanda's fascination with quilts began when she was a young girl and would study a quilt made by her Grandmother. It is a scrappy one made with pieces of clothing her family members had worn.

Her husband, Richard, is a photographer who has an eye for quilts which is clear in his photographs.

The pages of this book are beautifully illustrated with gorgeous quilts and include a verse from the Bible and a "Quilting Tip" for each photograph. The quilts featured are traditional in design, but not necessarily quilts that are associated with the Amish in color choice. (at least what is evident in the Lancaster Pennsylvania Amish) They are all beautiful!

This book is a lovely companion to The Hawaiian Quilt and Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends  Harvest Cookbook.

I received a copy to review.

Follow Wanda E. Brunstetter on Facebook.

#Amishquilts #quiltingtips #quilts

The Hawaiian Quilt

The Hawaiian Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter. Ohio: Shiloh Run Press, 2016. 279 pages. ***** Recipes, History of Hawaiian Quilts and Discussion Questions included.

Twenty-year-old Mandy Frey seems to have it all...a loving family, an Amish boyfriend who wants to marry her, three best friends and yet, she yearns to visit Hawaii. Convincing her three friends to go with her on this trip of a lifetime, Mandy's adventurous spirit leaves her and one of those friends stranded in Hawaii. An unexpected prolonged stay forces Mandy to re-evaluate what is important to her and to make life altering decisions. Gideon is waiting for her in Indiana, but handsome and fun-loving Ken is in Hawaii. Which one will Mandy choose and how does a Hawaiian quilt bring her true love?

Wanda and Jean as a team keep getting better and better. I love that they have branched out to Hawaii and brought Hawaiian quilts into the story. Hawaiian quilts are unique and complex, representative of the beauty of the islands. The writing team has captured the sights and smells of the islands in their descriptions of the Vog, flowers, water and sand. They never disappoint and this book is probably one of my favorites (I know I say that with every new release).  Their books provide comfort, inspiration and solace in this crazy world in which we live. 

I received it with a copy of Amish Quilts: Giftable Inspiration Along With Quilting Tips and the Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook. All three will make a wonderful holiday gift to your favorite person!

I received a copy for review. 

New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter and her husband live in Washington State but take every opportunity to visit friends in Amish settlements throughout the States.

Jean Brunstetter enjoys writing about her Amish friends' simple way of life, and takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities. 

Visit Facebook to hear the latest news!

#HawaiianQuilts #Quilts #Amish 

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook: over 240 recipes for using and preserving the Bounty of the Land by Wanda E. Brusnstetter. Ohio: Shiloh Run Press, 2016. 223 pages. *****

Wanda states in her introduction that she reached out to "the folks of various plain communities through The Budget newspaper as well as my numerous contacts within the communities of Amish and Mennonites." The result is a lush cookbook of over 240 recipes with gorgeous photographs and "Advice from Amish Gardeners." (the 20 pages of advice make the purchase of this book worthwhile) The recipes are varied with everything from "Carmelized Sweet Potatoes" to "Six Day Ketchup."

I particularly like the "Index by Key Ingredients" in addition to the "Index of Recipes by Section."

Included is a "Reflections on the Amish Family Garden" by Mary Alice Yoder of Topeka, Indiana.

I highly recommend this beautiful cookbook, it will make a perfect gift paired with The Hawaiian Quilt and Amish Quilts: Giftable Inspiration Along with Quilting Tips

I received a copy to review.

Follow Wanda E. Brunstetter on Facebook.

#Amishrecipes #Amishfood 


The Lucidity Project

The Lucidity Project: a novel  by Abbey Campbell Cook. Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2016. 288 pages *****

Finding no solution to her depression, Max Dorigan decides to kill herself. Waking in the hospital and  embarrassed by her actions, Max downplays the incident and dismisses it as an accident. Confronted with the truth, she agrees to participate in The Lucidity Project, an unconventional rehabilitation program on a remote resort in the Caribbean. Meeting the program director, Dr. Micah McMoneagle, Max feels an immediate dislike which grows into a confusing attraction. Max really believes that she doesn't belong in this program when she discovers that others in her group have psychic powers and can see ghosts. Dr. McMoneagle has found a way to allow people to enter each other's dreams and to help each other face their fears. Max struggles to understand and accept who she really is and what her recurring dream of drowning means in the context of what she is meant to do on this earth.

This is one of those books that when you read it, you must have an open mind and go slowly because there is a lot going on. Cook's writing style is subtle as she pulls you into the story. I found myself trying to predict where she is going (don't bother, you won't be able to figure it out) and admiring the way in which she layered each individual's fears and personal demons. Some reviews have criticized the lack of a clear cut genre, is it fantasy? new age fiction? Some books don't need a label, just a quiet place to enjoy it. I was in no hurry to get to the end and I hope that the author writes  more stories in a similar format it was so unpredictable and fresh in current fiction. Well done!

I received a paperback copy from BookSparks for a review.

Abbey Campbell Cook studied creative writing at UC Berkeley. She now writes (and sometimes sings and dances) about her ongoing quest for spiritual and physical wellness on her blog, Adventures in Woo Woo Land, which often includes pictures of Channing Tatum in his underwear (Ryan Gosling, too, if you're lucky). The Lucidity Project is her first novel.

#bestsummerever #SRC2016 @BookSparks


Painting Life

Painting Life: My Creative Journey Through Trauma by Carol K. Walsh (A Memoir). Berkeley, She Writes Press, 2016. 225 pages. "Questions for Book Clubs" **** Pre-order at Amazon

Walsh's story is a mesmerizing one beginning with the death of her fiance in a local indoor pool after meeting to discuss their wedding plans. Drawing from her experience as an artist, Carol creates a format to explain the creative process of "painting a life" and working through her personal trauma. Starting from an early age, she felt as if she didn't belong in her family. Consulting her mother's letters written to her father during World War II, family home movies, boxes of old photographs and personal journals, Carol recalls her childhood and at times analyzes it as a therapist. Because she wanted a boy when Carol was born, her controlling mother went so far as to write "male" on Carol's birth certificate. The error was discovered when Carol applied for a marriage license.  

This is one of those books that you will pick up and continue reading until you reach the end. Her story is compelling and analytical at times, however, relatable for most women. Trying to find herself and live with the choices she makes as a wife, mother, artist, and therapist, she has expanded her career to include "Create-A-Vision" coaching and this outlook is clearly represented in her writing. "Questions for Book Clubs" are included and this will make an excellent read for self-awareness or women's book groups to discuss.  This is Walsh's third book and I look forward to what comes next!

I received an Advance Reader Copy for a review.

Carol K. Walsh graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA. As a serious artist, she wrote and illustrated a hard cover book for fiber artists, Designing for Weaving, published by Hastings House of New York. Later, Walsh graduated from Catholic University of America with an MSW and opened a private practice. As a therapist, she wrote and self-published The Art of Awakening Spirit. Walsh has been happily married for twenty-two years and is the proud mother of two daughters and four grandchildren. She lives in Maryland.


Singer 185K

My husband and I went on a mission to find an older Singer which would be lighter and easier for me to take to classes and workshops. I saw this machine and case at an Antique and Farmer's Market. The owner plugged it in and it seemed to work; the light was burned out, but I loved the color! The finish is scratched in some places and the case is cracked. 

It has no manual or accessories, but there is a metal box of parts and bobbins that the seller threw in with the machine. She agrees to a much lower price, SOLD!

My husband carried it to the car and remarked that it is heavy...

I stopped on the way home at a sewing shop and bought new needles and bobbins.

Now to clean it up and see if she sews...(yes, she's a girl, but no name yet!)


I found several wonderful YouTube Videos...Sourdough Girl has two videos that are a must watch before sewing! Part 1 and Part II

My biggest surprise was finding out that Singer offers a download of the Manual.

I took it out of the case, darn, it is very heavy (mu husband weighed it...30 lbs.)...no way am I carrying it to classes! Cleaned and oiled the heck out of it. The power cord shows no wear and it is clean and looks well-cared for. It will be a great machine for my 9 year-old-granddaughter to use. It sews straight stitches and reverse. Easy to thread, make a bobbin, and set the tension.

The stitches are loose and gathered...reread the manual and must have skipped the part where the bobbin thread needs to be guided through the bobbin case. It now sews beautifully!

The only negative is that the thread spool pin is in the wrong hole and there seems to be a broken pin in the correct hole. I don't want to pay to have it serviced until I decide if I am going to use it or if my Granddaughter likes it.

She needs a name, she's a Scottish lass (or maybe at her age...(50+ years)...a maven), any suggestions? 

Update...She is answering to the name "Nessa" which means from the headland. 

My Granddaughter loves this machine...she says that she loves the smell of old things and how sewing machines "sound." Nessa is a keeper!

I found a Singer sewing machine light bulb in a quilt store and my husband was able to change the bulb easily and it works.