12/31/16

One Word 2017



In anticipation of the New Year, I am trying to decide what my word will be for this year. Last year my word was "Promise" and as much as I thought it was a good one, I really didn't connect with it. So, the pressure is on for this year.

My past words:
2016 Promise
2015 Abundance
2014 Believe
2013 Simplify


If you haven't chosen a "word" of the year before and are wondering what this is all about...Regina Brett has written a wonderful article explaining her word for 2017. Read it at:http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/columnists/regina_brett/let-s-change-the-world-one-word-at-a-time/article_54354a7a-cddd-11e6-b883-1b727094540d.html

A great website to help in choosing your word is the My One Word.

There are many different ways to remind yourself throughout the New Year of your word:

  • Order jewelry with your word on it...Google "word jewelry" "one word" "hammered jewelry" "word necklace"
  • Create a sign with your word on it
  • Make a pillow, pillow case as a reminder


  • #your word, ex. #Promise and add it to your Blog posts and social media 
  • Pinterest has some creative ideas for writing on mugs with permanent marker
  • If you are into tattoos, get one of your word and the year.
My Granddaughter has chosen "positivity" and a friend with cancer has chosen "strength." 

The first word that came to mind when I thought about this exercise was balance and I dismissed it as being too mundane and vague to achieve, but the more I thought about it, it's exactly what I need.



Balance in my eating, exercise, quilting, time management, etc. I tend to devote all of my energy in one activity to the detriment of others and then get stressed because I can't finish everything. I lost 20 pounds in the last two years and have gained 10 pounds back, so one of my first steps is going to be moving more and drinking more water.


This says it all!


I have many quilts in various stages to finish and more books to review, places to go and people to see! Stay tuned...#balance


12/26/16

Murder Mystery Quilt 2017




I saw this Murder Mystery Quilt monthly activity and decided to join.

The Murder Mystery Quilt is a monthly subscription club that reads along together and stitches up a quilt to find clues and solve the murder mystery contained in the story.  

There are 12 blocks, one for each month of the year. The last mystery sew-along I did was the Downton Abbey Mystery Quilt designed by Ebony Love. It was great fun and I love my quilt!

I will blog about my experience each month and show you my quilt in progress (unless it is against the rules).

I received permission to Blog about the process so I will be posting monthly throughout the year. There are five other women from my Quilt Guild who are also participating in this challenge, we will meet monthly to discuss our blocks and share the experience. Our first meeting was at Panera Bread...food, quilts, and a murder mystery!

January Block 1: From Tiny Seeds

I pulled the fabrics I had selected to make this quilt and it soon became apparent that my color choices are blah! I love Grunge fabric, so I selected fat quarters in warm and cool colors. 

It looks like the design is acorns and my background is supposed to be a peachy color. Way too boring!





Back to my stash to find a different background. 

The way the pattern is constructed is a different technique for me, however, I will follow the designer's instructions. I use tiny post-it notes to mark the individual cutting pieces, this keeps me organized.



My completed block, much nicer with this Hoffman background!



I read the first installment of the murder mystery and enjoyed it! 

#murdermysteryquilt2017 @whipstitchfabrics #block1fromtinyseeds

12/22/16

The Madwoman Upstairs


The Madwoman Upstairs: a novel of the last Bronte by Catherine Lowell. New York: Touchstone, 2016. 337 pages. Reading Group Guide. *****


Samantha Whipple is the last remaining descendant of the Bronte family and the Bronte estate. The only problem is that her dad died in a house fire when she was 15 and has left her riddles to find the estate if it even exits. When her father's books start to show up in her Oxford tower college room, Samantha doesn't understand how the books survived the fire and who is leaving them for her. With the help of her attractive college professor, Samantha searches for answers about her Bronte relatives and her father.

The complexity of the relationship between Samantha and her mother and father adds to the depth of the story. Fans of the Brontes will relish the personal descriptions of their family, their personalities, and the time in which they lived. Lowell's suggested theories about the relationships between the sisters and Branwell in discussions between Samantha and her professor will make this a great companion to their books. I had the opportunity to walk the moors at Haworth a few years ago and Lowell aptly described the town and brought it all back to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing plot and appreciate what an ambitious endeavor it is as a first novel. You do not have to have read the Bronte books in order to enjoy the story, but it helps. I have not read Agnes Gray by Anne Bronte (writing under the pen name of Acton Bell) and will add it to my list. I look forward to more from Lowell.

I received a copy for a review.

Catherine Lowell received her BA in English from Stanford University, and currently lives in New York City. The Madwoman Upstairs is her first novel.

 For more information on the Brontes visit https://www.bronte.org.uk/the-brontes-and-haworth/family-history

#FRC2016 @BookSparks #Brontefamily

If you would like to win this copy, (US residents only) please comment on your favorite book of the Brontes or your favorite book of 2016. Winner will be drawn on January 1, 2017, check back to see if you are the winner!

12/18/16

The Marriage Lie


The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. Mira, 2016. 334 pages.  Questions for Discussion and A Conversation with the Author. **** 

Iris and Will have been married for seven years and have an almost perfect marriage. Will surprises Iris with a gorgeous Cartier ring on the morning of his departure to Florida to attend a business conference. They have decided to try to have a baby and Iris leaves for her job as a psychologist at a private school in a very happy mood. When Iris hears of a plane crashing that is headed to Seattle, Iris is relieved to know that Will is on his way to Florida. Confusion, denial and heartbreak soon follow when her mother calls to tell her that Will is listed as having been on board and killed. Iris soon discovers that Will isn't the man she thought he was and she is determined with the help of her twin brother to unearth the truth. Why was Will going to Seattle and was he on that plane? Even after his wedding ring and briefcase are found, questions remain to be answered.

I am a fan of the suspenseful, romance genre and I enjoyed the many twists and turns in this book. There were enough layers to the story line to have me wondering what is really going on and who the bad guys are. I particularly liked the ending, unexpected, but fitting. (no spoilers here!) Belle is an easy read, I started and finished it in one day, especially because I became engrossed in the drama of Will's past and the determination of heartbroken Iris.

I received a copy for a review.

Kimberly Belle worked in marketing and nonprofit fundraising before turning to writing fiction. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and currently divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. She is the author of three novels: The Last Breath, The Ones We Trust, and The Marriage Lie. Visit Kimberly at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

@BookSparks  #suspense #FRC2016

12/16/16

Quilt Guild Holiday Party



I am fortunate to be a member of two Quilt Guilds: Calico Cutters and Brandywine Valley Quilters. We had our Holiday parties this past week; one in the evening and one during the day. BVQ meets the second Tuesday night of the month in a church hall and this is the sight that greeted me when I entered the room. It was magical!



My co-chair and I planned a fun evening of door prizes, the traditional 12 Days of Christmas sing-along and a game. Thank you Quilty Box and Quilter's Stash Box for the fabulous door prizes!



Calico Cutters meets the second Wednesday of the month during the day at a Fire Company.

Both Guilds had wonderful food, door prizes and games. Calico Cutters played Quilto, a quilter's bingo. I was so excited when I won a 25.00 gift certificate to one of my favorite Quilt Shops, The Quilt Block My gift certificate came in this beautiful holder made by Cheryl Lynch. If you would like to make one too, she has created a tutorial on how to make The Fifteen Minute Gift Card Holder. I am the world's worst when it comes to gift cards, nothing ever seems worthy enough and I hate to spend it. Love the fabric, anyone know what line this is? 


One of the highlights of the party was the contents of the little green bag. Since it is the 30th anniversary of the Guild, Cheryl designed fabric on Spoonflower for the Guild Challenge. Each member received a fat quarter to be included in a challenge quilt. It is amazing!
The quilt is due at the April meeting, so stay tuned! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

#quiltguild #quiltersholidayparty #brandywinevalleyquilters #calicocutters 
  

Lock the Door


Lock the Door by Jane Holland. Thomas & Mercer, 2017. 340 pages. **** Publication date January 10, 2017.

Meghan Smith believes that protecting her son from germs and strangers will keep him alive even with his life threatening condition. What she doesn't anticipate is that she can't protect him in his own bedroom. Meghan and Jon are celebrating their anniversary with a few friends in the garden when Harry goes missing from his bed. Did a stranger enter an unlocked door or did one of their friends conspire to take him? Who can she trust and where is Harry?

A suspenseful tale of love, greed and betrayal. Smith hooked me with Harry's illness and Meghan's anxiety in taking care of him. She is spot on in how a mother with a critically ill child feels and reacts. Lack of sleep and guilt will make any parent crazy! Add a missing child and everyone is under suspicion in this thriller.

I received a copy from NetGalley for a review.

Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and novelist who also writes commercial fiction under the pseudonyms Victoria Lamb, Elisabeth Moss, Beth Good and Hannah Coates. Her previous book, Girl Number One, hit #1 in the UK Kindle store December 2015. Jane lives with her husband and young family near the North Cornwall/West Devon border. A homeschooler, her hobbies include photography and growing her own vegetables.

The Trapped Girl


The Trapped Girl (The Tracy Crosswhite Series Book 4) by Robert Dugoni. Thomas & Mercer, 2017. 421 pages. ***** Publication Date January 24, 2017. 

When Kurt Schill sees a hand among the seaweed, starfish and crabs in his illegal Puget Sound crab pot, he had no idea what his four thirty in the morning catch would unleash. Detective Tracy Crosswhite on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section answers the call and her first task is to identify the body and then the killer. The woman apprears to be someone who disappeared months ago on a hike up Mt. Rainier with her husband and he emerges as the likely suspect. The fact that the dead woman has had plastic surgery to mask her identity adds to the mystery and questions the validity of the story surrounding her disappearance. Tracy flashbacks to her sister's unsolved murder and is determined to find justice for Andrea and arrest the killer.

Full disclosure...I am a huge fan of the Tracy Crosswhite Series and I couldn't wait to read this book. I was not disappointed, every time I thought I had it figured out, there was a new twist and the suspense continued. Dugoni's strength is to weave a complicated tale of greed, lies and betrayal. Tracy is an uncompromising detective, haunted by her past, focused on justice, and the drive to solve this murder. I highly recommend this series and can't wait to see what happens next!

I received a copy from NetGalley for a review.

Robert Dugoni is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series. His books have been likened to Scott Turow and Nelson DeMile, and he has been hailed as "the undisputed king of the legal thriller" by the Providence Journal. 
Visit his website at www.robertdugoni.com and follow him on Twitter @robertdugoni and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni.

12/8/16

The Next


The Next: A Novel by Stephanie Gangi. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2016. 312 pages. ****

Forty-seven-year-old Joanna DeAngelis is dying wrong. Forget the touching end of life scenes in the movies, Joanna is angry, bitter and wants revenge. Her daughters want to connect one last time and to find peace in saying good-bye. Instead their mother pines for "Ned" her much younger boyfriend, who has abandoned her without an explanation. When Joanna can talk her daughter into giving her a phone, she spends her remaining time cyberstalking Ned and his young, glamorous, famous, dermatologist girlfriend. Joanna enacts her revenge when she remains connected to this world and is able to torture Ned.

This is a dark tale of karma, betrayal, love and the afterlife. Gangi has created a story that will have the reader looking intently at shadows, jumping at unexplained sounds, and questioning life's choices. A true ghost story that will leave you guessing as to how it is all going to end. I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I am repelled by the darkness of it and yet, fascinated wth the complicated, inventive plot. A great book for discussion about ghosts and what happens to people who die angry.

I received a copy for a review.

Stephanie Gangi is a poet and novelist who lives, works and writes in New York City.
#FRC2016 @BookSparks

12/3/16

Size Matters


Size Matters: A Novel by Cathryn Novak. Berkeley: She Writes Press: 2016. 136 pages. ****


Reclusive John Frederick loves to eat and his day revolves around what his personal chef will prepare for his meals. When Alexandra "Lexie" Haynes is hired, she can't imagine preparing meals for someone she has not met nor will meet in the course of her day. On impulse, Lexie invades John's inner sanctum and is overcome by the sight and scents that linger there. Over time, a mutual respect and friendship develops between Lexie and John until he experiences a life-threatening event and must completely change his food choices.  As often happens, the relationship changes, and Lexie doesn't know what to do to recapture the bond that was once between them.

This is one of those stories that I wanted to continue and savor while reading it. Novak certainly has a way with words and paints a picture of loneliness, need and unexpected friendship. "The bright, shining odor of John Frederick's joy in consuming her cooking" and "her hands and her creativity, have produced the offerings that have nourished and expanded this living, breathing work of art" drew me into a story that is sensitive and emotional. My only complaint is that the book was too short and I hope that I have not seen the last of Lexie and John.


I received a copy for a review.

Cathryn Novak has had a years-long love affair with words that began as soon as she could read. After graduating with a degree in communications and public policy from UC Berkeley. Cathryn did a stint in advertising before devoting the rest of her professional career to public service.
Now retired, Cathryn has returned to her first love; the world of fiction. Size Matters is her first published novel.


#FRC2016 @BookSparks


12/2/16

Found


Found: A Novel by Emily Brett. Tempe: Sparks Press, 2016. 299 pages. ****

When the sixty-four-year-old husband of a colleague crashes and dies, twenty-seven-year-old Natalie questions his death and her life. She informs her supervisor about the suspicious death and starts a chain of events that will endanger her and others who come in contact with her. Estranged from her father and still mourning the death of her mother, Natalie realizes that there is nothing to keep her in her current position.  Wanting to see more of the world, Natalie applies to be a "Traveling Nurse" and accepts a position in Belize. Romance, intrigue and unexpected friendships follow Natalie from Belize, to Arizona and Australia.

This is an enjoyable book, one that once I started, I wanted to continue and finish to see what happens next. The hospital subplots were intriguing and made the story believable. Without giving away anything, there were a few predictable situations, but I can't say that they took away from the story. It was more of an "aha," I thought so moment. I'm sure anyone in the medical profession will be able to relate and patients too who have had that one nurse who really seems to care!


I received a copy from BookSparks for a review.

Emily Brett received her first bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in Kinesiology, after which she went on to Arizona State University to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing. While working as an ICU nurse, she earned a master's degree in nursing at Arizona State. She is board-certified as an Adult Nurse Practitioner and has been in the nursing profession for over ten years. Presently she serves on the Adavnced Practice Committee with the Arizona State Board of Nursing and shares a medical practice with her husband, a physician. She has published in a number of medical journals, including The Journal for Nurse Practitioners and the Online Journal of Nursing Scholarship. She is also a member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association.
Website: www.emilybrettbooks.com Twitter: @emilybrettbooks

@BookSparks #FRC2016