8/18/17

Beartown


Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Translated by Neil Smith. New York: Atria Books, 2016. 418 pages. ****

The story opens with "a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger." Beartown is a town that has lost most of its economic base, closed some schools, and is getting swallowed up by its desolateness. The town's hope for a bright future is hockey. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals and the town is counting on their star player, Kevin. A win will change the lives of the team members and justify the choices that the general manager and coach have made for the boys and their families. The actions of the players at an unsupervised party the night before the game challenges the beliefs of the parents, townspeople and the players themselves. When the police remove one of their own from the bus on the day of the big game, the players and townspeople rally to support him even though his innocence is questioned by his best friend. 

Backman has tackled a difficult subject and this book is unlike his others. Initially, I was disappointed because if you have read my previous posts, I love his writings and was hoping for similar characters and plot. This is one of those books that starts out slow and I knew something tragic was unfolding based on the first few lines. Yes, it is a book about hockey, but it could be any town and any sport. When players are idolized and are seen to be above the rules of society and the adults turn a blind eye, anything can and does happen. There are no easy answers and even the players who stand up for what is right and just are beaten for their stance. It is through Backman's characters, that hope, love, and courage win over ego and violence. 

 I am not a sports fan and maybe some of the situations are predictable and cliched, however, Backman's unique character development gives this story an edge. Difficult to read at times because of the anticipated outcome, I couldn't "look away" and had to keep reading.


Recommended for Book Clubs, there are many cultural and societal issues addressed and are ripe for discussion.

Reviews of his other books, click here.

Fredrik Backman's stories have been published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on Instagram @backmansk.

#beartown #fredrikbackman 

8/13/17

You Were There Before My Eyes


You Were There Before My Eyes by Maria Riva. New York: Pegasus Books, 467 pages. ***** Publication Date - October 7, 2017.

The story begins, "The morning her mother died, Giovanna gave up on God." An only child, raised by a remote father and disciplined by the nuns in a quiet turn-of-the-century Italian village, Giovanna is determined to escape the inevitable future planned for her. When the brother of a friend returns to the village to choose a wife with certain qualities for a perfect marriage. When his chosen fiance turns him down, Giovanna volunteers to marry Giovanni and travel with him to America to start a new life as his wife.
Nothing prepares Giovanna for Ellis Island and the train journey to Detroit where her new husband works in the Ford factories. Renaming themselves, Jane and John, they are determined to fit into life in their new neighborhood and the culture surrounding employment in the Ford factory. Henry Ford has strong opinions about how his employees should behave and rewards those who are married. It is 1913 and the factory is installing the first assembly line to produce the Model T. John, a leader among his immigrant friends at the factory, is optimistic about the many opportunities available by working at the plant. Jane is determined to be a good wife to John and to make him proud of her, even if the many norms and customs in America are strange to her. With the advent of World War I, their world becomes one of suspicion, loss, and betrayal.

I knew nothing about this time period and the workings of the Ford factory, but I was absolutely captivated by this love story. Riva introduces us to everyday life for the poor working class at the turn of the century. The factory workers who revere the owners and those who covertly meet to push the "union" agenda. Immigrants who come to America believe that if one works hard enough, a better life and prosperity will be theirs. Being a family historian and ggggrandaughter of Irish immigrants, I am fascinated by the hardships, friendships, and relationships that they formed when they arrived in America. Riva gives us a glimpse into how it really does take a village to survive as an immigrant. Hannah, the landlady, takes Jane under her wing, befriends, and counsels her. The best historical fiction transports me to a time and place and I become lost in that other world, Jane and John's story does that for me.


I received an ecopy for a review.


Maria Riva was born in Berlin in 1924 and is the only child of Marlene Dietrich.  Maria performed in Germany and Italy as part of a USO troupe during World War II and taught acting at Fordham University upon her return to the United States.  She has performed on Broadway, radio, television, and film and has been nominated for an Emmy. Maria continues an active life in California and spends time visiting her sons and grandchildren. 

Enigma


Enigma by Catherine Coulter. New York: Gallery Books, 2017. 311 pages. ***** Published September 12, 2017.

In this latest FBI novel, Agents Savich and Sherlock race against time to free a pregnant woman held hostage by an armed stranger. When Savich saves Kara Moody from the crazy man who claims to be protecting her, Savich discovers a convoluted plot by a scientist to enable his father and others to live forever. At the same time, Wittier and Cabot track a violent criminal who has escaped during a well-planned rescue. Throw in the murder of the girlfriend of the President's Chief of Staff's only son and all bets are off.

Coulter once again delivers a heart-thumping, roller coaster of a ride. Her plots are involved and believable with likeable characters. This is her 21st FBI novel and I hope there will be many more from her. It's not easy to develop two plots simultaneously with strong alpha characters and create believable scenes and romantic situations. Make sure you have the time to finish this one once started because you are not going to want to put it down.

I received an ecopy for review.

Catherine Coulter is the New York Times bestselling author of 75 books. She lives in Sausalito, California. To learn more...http://www.catherinecoulter.com

8/5/17

A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere


A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere by Kris Radish. Tempe: Booksparks, 2017. 272 pages. ****
(Paperback- September 12th 2017.)

Briar Logan has finally found the love of her life only to see him kidnapped by lawless gold miners. Having survived a horrific childhood and life on the western frontier in the 1860s, Briar is determined to save her husband and return to the solace of their ranch. The harsh realities of the elements -- cold, snow, and gold thieves, whiskey runners, etc. force Briar to allow Jack and Percy to accompany her to the mines to save Logan. Jack, a damaged young man, and Percy, a notorious female horse trainer, prove their worth when Briar is injured and suffers a concussion. This unlikely trio forms a bond of love, courage, and resilience in an unforgiving world, however, is it enough to save Logan and bring him home?

Kris Radish's work always incorporates strong female characters. Pushed to their limits, they prove their worth in the face of extreme adversity. Every woman in the story has an important role in the survival of each other and Briar and Percy are no exceptions to this premise. I have liked her writing since the first book I read, The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. It's hard to believe that Kris is terrified of horses since Briar has a special relationship with her horse, Willow. This is a story of survival and love. Escapism at its best.

A received an ecopy for a review.

Kris Radish is the author of eleven novels and three works of nonfiction. A former journalist, nationally syndicated columnist, and university instructor, Radish is terrified of horses but has wanted to be a cowgirl her entire life. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, but readily admits her heart is in the mountains and the spirit of Mika is lurking her west. When she's not polishing her boots, Radish is working on a nonfiction book, a compilation of her poetry, her next two novels, and some really great stories to share around the campfire in Montana.

#historicalfiction #westernfrontierfiction

7/25/17

Fredrik Backman

 


Every once in awhile, I read an author by happenstance and then want to read everything published by that author. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter if I read the books in the order in which they were published, I just want to read them.

Reluctantly, I read A Man Called Ove and fell in love with Fredrik Backman. I say reluctantly because usually if a book is a best seller or everyone is raving about it, I can't relate to it or don't like it. Which is really embarrassing when I read a lot and review all of the time. Being out of sync in my thoughts with others usually ends in their disappointment in my opinion or somehow I fall short in their idea of what a good book should be. The book, The Shack, falls into that category. It is equally frustrating when I love an author or book and friends are "meh" about it. 

However, I totally relate to Backman's characters, his stories, his portrayal of people who exhibit OCD characteristics and his sense of humor. Maybe because I am of a certain age and can understand how Britt-Marie wants to be remembered. Britt-Marie sees everything as black and white. Everything and everyone has a place and there is an order to her universe. Some of her conversations with the unemployment office made me laugh out loud. She once read about someone who died and wasn't found right away, this story and her sister's death has a profound impact on her. I love the ending of Britt-Marie it is extremely satisfying and just right. 

I read Britt-Marie Was Here before my grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry and was informed by a friend that I should have read Britt-Marie second. Yes, that probably would have been helpful, but they can be read out of order and still make sense. 

my grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry is a Narnia like story of a special bond between a grandmother and her eleven-year-old granddaughter. Out of all of his books, this one was a slow starter for me, maybe because of the Narnia feel and how much I love those books. The fact that it is a story of hope, love, and the cycle of life told in Backman's style elevated it to mythological proportions with the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. 

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these books and was sorry when they ended. However, I have Beartown on reserve at the  Public Library and look forward to reading it as soon as it becomes available. 


Fredrik Backman's stories have been published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. His most recent novel is Beartown.


#fredrikbackman #brittmariewashere #mygrandmotheraskedmetotellyoushessorry 

Ibotta

My daughter introduced me to Ibotta while we were on vacation. She is one savy shopper and has racked up savings/rebates of 400.00. I've decided to try it out for 6 months and see if I actually accumulate any savings.

She sent me a link with a special code...I get a 10.00 bonus for signing up and she gets 5.00 when I sign up.

My first day shopping...with the addition of the 10.00, I accumulated 12.00 in savings.

  • 1.50 rebate on Clorox wipes at Walmart
  • .50 just for scanning my cash register receipt at Walmart
The second day, I received notification that I will get an .88 credit for buying an item through Amazon.

I also found a blog that has strategies for saving even more. Click here to learn how. I hadn't realized that I could purchase the same item more than once to take advantage of an offer by paying separately. 

I can with draw my earnings through a PayPal Account once my balance reaches 20.00. 

I will continue to blog about this experience for the next six months, if you are using this App also, please share your experience. I f you would like to sign up...use my referral code and we both get rewarded...xcxsqbd If you do decide to sign up, let me know because there is a "teamwork" feature and we can get additional bonuses.

#ibotta

7/20/17

Down A Dark Road


Down A Dark Road (A Kate Burkholder Novel) by Linda Castillo. New York: Minotaur Books, 2017. 253 pages. *****

In this latest addition to the Kate Burkholder series, Chief of Police Kate is ambushed by an escaped killer who holds her hostage with his young children. Complicating the situation is the convicted killer is her childhood friend and first crush who claims that he is innocent and he has been framed. Caught between her previous Amish life and her search for justice, Kate doesn't know who or what to believe. If Joseph is innocent, Naomi's killer is still out there and may have been seen by 3-year-old Sadie. It doesn't help that during the hostage negotiations, a compromising picture is taken of Kate and Joseph and Kate is placed on restrictive duty. This does not stop her from uncovering corruption, drugs, and the abuse of power before the murderer is finally identified.

I received an ecopy for a review.

I read this book in one day at the beach and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fast, moving plot, that had some unexpected turns, Kate is at her best ignoring protocol and seeking justice for Joseph and Naomi King. Castillo through this series adds a small insight into the world and thoughts of the Amish. The emotional involvement of Kate takes the story to a new level of complexity and interferes with Kate's judgment. Sometimes when an author writes a series revolving around the main character, it can become stale and redundant...not so with this series. Each book can be read as a standalone, but I suggest you start with book one, Sworn to Silence. 

To learn more about Linda Castillo, click http://www.lindacastillo.com. To read the books in order, http://www.bookseriesinorder.com/kate-burkholder/

#kateburkholderseries  #downadarkroad




7/5/17

Exposed



Exposed (A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel) by Lisa Scottoline. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017. 351 page. ****

In this latest Rosato & DiNunzio novel, Mary and Bennie are at a crossroads. Mary agrees to represent a childhood friend who has been let go from his job for poor performance. Simon, Mary's client, has a daughter in Children's Hospital, Philadelphia, who is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Her partner, Bennie, is on retainer with the parent company and sees Mary's client as being a conflict of interest for their partnership. They agree to disagree until it becomes apparent to both of them that Mary must leave the practice in order to adequately defend her client from a countersuit. The story takes an unexpected turn when one of the accuser's of Mary's client turns up dead and time is running out for Mary to prove that her friend is not a murderer.

Lisa loves to take a social issue, in this case, a father is supposedly fired from his job because of the high cost of his daughter's health costs. The affordability and availability of health care is a current hot button for many and Lisa captures the emotions of the frustrated parent who cannot cure his daughter. The book is dedicated "to the physicians, nurses, and staff of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia." My son was a patient there when he was a baby and Lisa has recreated the feelings of helplessness and hope that exists amid the chaos and pain. The scenes with Mary's father and his friends are always funny and representative of neighborhood Philly. This story is a compelling summer read.

I received an electronic and a hardcover copy for a review.

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of twenty-eight novels. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, she has been published in thirty-five countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those stories have been adapted into a series of bestselling memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog. Lisa lives on a Pennsylvania farm with an array of disobedient pets. Visit Lisa at www.Scottoline.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @LisaScottoline.

#exposed #rosatoanddinunzio

6/27/17

Friendship Bracelet - Row by Row Junior

The hardest part of sewing the Friendship Bracelet is choosing the fabrics!


 This is an easy block to sew, all straight seams. Thankfully, she remembers everything she learned at Christmas! 10 is a great age for sewing; better attention span and willingness to do it right!


The instructions are clear and the blocks go together quickly.



Choosing the decorative elements from Nona's stash is another huge undertaking...



Another layout choice...



Ta dah! Friendship Bracelets and High Tops are done...3 more rows to go!


#campnona #friendshipbracelets #rowbyrow2017 #rowbyrowjunior2017 #rowbyrowexperience

6/26/17

High Tops - Row by Row Junior



The first Row completed and Shae collected a blue ribbon for it! Jan at The Quilt Block in Exton, PA was gracious enough to pose for a picture awarding the ribbon. It is so much fun to see this happy face for completing something that she started. We bought shoelaces at the Dollar Store that she will add them once the top is quilted. Kudos to the creators of this summer project. Shae and I have had such a great time together!







Shae decided to start with the "High Tops" Row by Row. No surprise because she picked out really cute fabric for this row. She started by tracing the pattern for the high top 4x on Heat and Bond lite.


Once traced, they were ironed to the wrong side of the fabric.


She decided to pair the fabrics for the shoe, toe and sole. 
Each possible shoe was added to the background squares to see how they looked before they would be permanently placed.

The instructions said to place the shoe 1.25 inches from the bottom edge of the background square.

All of the pieces are ironed and the High Tops look great. Next step, auditioning thread to applique them tomorrow.

#rowxrow2017 #rowbyrowjunior2017 #hightops #rowbyrow2017 #onthegorowbyrow2017 #campnona





A Man Called Ove


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Atria books, 2014. 253 pages. *****

Ove is a curmudgeon of the first order. He doesn't understand why people don't follow the rules. He distrusts most people and wishes everyone would leave him alone especially the needy neighbors with their chatty little girls. Ove can't understand how his life turned out the way it did and he has little sympathy for those who rely on others to fix their problems.

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. I traveled last month and it seemed like either people were carrying it or the book was front and center at the airport newsstands. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed out loud and cried. (I'm not an easy crier)  Having recently read The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg, I thought I knew where the story was headed and it did in some ways, but there were enough subplots to keep me interested. I read this one for me (I didn't receive a review copy) and finished it in two days.  When you reach a certain age, we all know a person like Ove and I definitely am that age. There are so many levels to this story -- it's a love story between two unlikely people;  a commentary on growing old and feeling useless; societal norms and expectations and the irony of life goes on whether we want it to or not. I saw some negative reviews and I can understand why not everyone can relate to Ove. I'm sure someone younger may read it and think that isn't going to happen to them and it may not. There is a certain sadness to growing old and Bette Davis and Ove remind us that "Old age ain't for sissies." I've placed Backman's latest book, Britt-Marie Was Here, on hold at my public library and look forward to reading it.

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. His latest novel is Britt-Marie Was Here.  He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

#ove #amancalledove

6/25/17

Row by Row 2017

I love the Row by Row experience! The theme this year is "On the GO!" In case you don't know what it is...you can learn all about it at Row by Row 2017. It started on June 21st and lasts until Sept. 5th. All shops give away a free pattern row just by entering the store (you may also purchase kits) and this year they are offering a Junior row free to children ages 6-14. My Granddaughter usually goes with me shop hopping and she loved collecting the patterns for her age group.

With Grandpop as the driver, we chose six shops in New Jersey to visit. The whole process is so easy because the organizers provide a Shop List by state. Grandpop entered the addresses in the GPS and off we went. For the most part, the people in the quilt shops were very enthusiastic and helpful. The only disappointment was the first shop...the woman at the counter was less enthusiastic when we didn't want to purchase the kit and she didn't have the patterns handy. We patiently waited and explained that we like to select our own fabric and reassured her that we would buy something in each store we visit. (seems fair, doesn't it?) It wasn't until we got the second pattern, we realized that the sneaker pattern from the first store was incorrectly printed. It was not printed at 100% and the shoe template is smaller than the others. Luckily, another store was giving away the same pattern in the correct size.

Whoever thought of the Junior Program was brilliant, my Granddaughter scored all five junior patterns in one day...and we bought fabric, pins, etc.























Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington, NJ got our vote as the friendliest store today. They went out of their way to be helpful and spoke to my granddaughter as the quilter she is...(she won a ribbon in a Quilt Show)


I picked up the adult patterns and love the variety and attention to detail that went into the designs. I just have to figure out a way to travel to the shops that have campers on their patterns. 

We will continue with the experience throughout the summer so she can buy fabric for the rows as she works on them and I have promised she may choose a license plate for the label of her quilt.

#rowxrow2017 #rxrjunior #rowxrowjunior2017  #penningtonquiltworks #juniorrowbyrow #rowbyrowjunior

6/15/17

Badlands


Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt. (Book 3 Sawbones series) New York: Redhook Books, 2017. ***** Interview with the Author. Release date June 27, 2017.

In the third book in the series, Laura is once again separated from William and has been kidnapped by Rosemond. William is on trial for desertion and Laura has no money and no place to go. Rosemond claims that William asked her to look after Laura and to keep her safe. When the trunk of full of their belongings is left on a train and Laura wakes from a drug-induced stupor, she has a hard time believing anything she is told. Is the whore Rosemund her friend or foe and does William have feelings for her? Who is the mysterious stranger who seems to be everywhere and is definitely interested in their past? When Laura receives a telegram that informs her that William has been executed, she realizes that it is time to confront her accusers and clear her name.

I read somewhere that this is the last book in the series. I hope that there will be others, however, Lenhardt wrapped up the series and provided justice. It was a satisfying ending and I look forward to future books by Lenhardt. Not since Outlander have I enjoyed a historical fiction series or one that held my attention like this one did. 


I received an ecopy for a review.

Melissa Lenhardt is on the board of directors for the North Dallas chapter of Sisters of Crime, as well as a member of the DFW Writers Workshop. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.

#badlands 

Sawbones


Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt. (Book 1 Sawbones Series) New York: Redhook Books, 2016. 410 pages. Reading Group Guide. *****

In this first book in the series, it is 1871 and Catherine Bennett is one of the few female doctors in New York City. Catherine comes home one night to see the police banging on her door, she is accused of murdering her supposed lover with a fireplace poker. Her best friend, James, persuades her that she will be hung if she stays to defend herself. Deciding to head west to Colorado and starting a new life, Catherine encounters horrors that she never could have imagined. Changing her name does not protect her from being pursued by bounty hunters and those who want to collect the reward for her capture.

I read the 2nd book, Blood Oath,  and then reserved the first one at the Public Library. This series is captivating, engrossing and I love it. History, romance, murder, betrayal, this series has it all. Lenhardt does a wonderful job of leaving us hanging, my only complaint is having to wait for the next one to find out what happens to Laura/Catherine and William.

I received an ecopy for a review.

Melissa Lenhardt is on the board of directors for the North Dallas chapter of Sisters of Crime, as well as a member of the DFW Writers Workshop. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.

#sawbonesseries #historicalfiction #sawbones

Blood Oath


Blood Oath by Melissa Lenhardt. (Book 2, Sawbones Series) New York; Redhook Books, 2017. 282 pages *****

In this second book in the Sawbones Series, Kindle and Laura are heading to Fort Worth disguised as brothers trying to stay one step ahead of the bounty hunters and Pinkerton detective looking for them. Laura's voice is still hoarse after her encounter with Cotter Black and she is recovering from her physical ailments after her brutal attack at the hands of her kidnappers. Kindle has grown a beard and sports an eye patch attempting to hide his scars and evade the military consequences of his desertion. No stranger to violence, Laura and Kindle are willing to kill in order to be safe and to stay together.  As a doctor, Laura questions her ability to practice medicine in the future based on her acts in the present. Laura risks her life to save a Native American woman who is being savaged by bandits, only to once again find her reckless act curtails her freedom. However, Laura is an independent woman, not a trait valued on the frontier) and Kindle is madly in love with her. Seeking solace with Kindle's sister, who runs an orphanage, Laura and Kindle must face their own demons while learning to trust each other.

I received an ecopy for a review.

I read this book in one sitting on a flight from Bozeman, MT (by way of Dallas FW) to Philadelphia. I love historical fiction and this series really captured my attention. I received the 2nd one to review and quickly reserved the first one from my Public Library and requested to review the 3rd. I am so impatient when I get to the end and have to wait until the next one is published. (I don't do too well watching mini-series either) The violence of the frontier is realistically portrayed and the brutal acts committed against humanity are well documented. But, it is also a love story and one that survives against all odds. I recommend that you start with Sawbones because it is a little disjointed to start with Blood Oath. I could follow the story, because Lenhardt does backtrack, but I think you will enjoy them in order.

Melissa Lenhardt is on the board of directors for the North Dallas chapter of Sisters of Crime, as well as a member of the DFW Writers Workshop. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.

#sawbonesseries #bloodoath #historicalfiction

Maxine Rosenthal and One - Block Wonder

I had the pleasure of attending a One - Block Wonder Workshop by Maxine Rosenthal. What a fun, inspiring and challenging day! Maxine is truly a delight, she has a quick wit and likes to make the process easy and fun!



My biggest challenge was to select a fabric that I liked... which we then cut into strips and then into the hexagons!

Some of the final hexagons!

I liked the process and design so much, I may actually finish this quilt...stay tuned.

For more information about the One - Block Wonders...there are several books...




#oneblockwonders #oneblockwonder #maxinerosenthal

6/10/17

Murder Mystery Quilt 2017

I thought it would be easier to keep up with the Murder Mystery Quilt each month than it has been. I have been travelling and not very motivated to sew. If I did a project like this again, I will purchase my fabric each month when a new pattern or row is introduced. I purchased it all up front and now I'm not sure I like how it is coming together. It is supposed to be divided on the diagonal with warm colors on one side and cool colors on the other side.


I did substitute fabric the very first month, but I seem to like the ones where all of the fabric is coordinating. I will have to wait and see what this month brings design wise and have faith and continue onward and upward.

#murdermysteryquilt2017

6/6/17

The Promise Girls


The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick. New York: Kensington Books, 2017. 346 pages.  A Reading Group Guide ****


The Promise Girls are three sisters who are raised by an overbearing, controlling mother. They have been conceived by "test tube" and groomed by their mother to be a genius in a particular career. Unfortunately for Minerva Promise, her daughters -- gifted pianist Joanie, artisitic Meg and storyteller Avery, are removed from her care and squander their gifts. Fast forward twenty years and each of the girls is questioning her choices in life and personal relationships. A genius himself, filmmaker Hal Seeger, contacts the girls in an effort to document their lives and reconnect with Joanie. When Meg is in a car crash and is faced with huge medical bills, the sisters agree to cooperate  and allow Hal and his film crew into their lives. This decision has a huge impact on the present especially when secrets are revealed and the girls are reunited with their mother.


I purchased this book and had the pleasure of meeting Marie.

This is the first book in some time that Marie has written that does not include quilting and one that when finished, she felt "incandescently happy." As she should, it is well-written and complete. A intriguing story that fuels the "nature vs nurture" debate and when is someone considered a failure? Is it career choices, relationships, family or being happy? Bostwick is a natural as a storyteller and she grows as a writer with each book.

Marie Bostwick was born and raised in the northwest. In the three decades since her marriage, Marie and her family have moved frequently living in eight different states and eighteen different addresses. These experiences have given Marie a unique perspective that enables her to write about people from all walks of life and corners the country with insight and authenticity.  Marie currently resides in Oregon, where she enjoys writing, spending time with family, gardening, collecting fabric, and stitching quilts.
Visit her at www.mariebostwick.com.


#thepromisegirls

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool


I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017. 232 pages *****

This mother - daughter writing team will make you laugh out loud. From Philadelphia to New York City, told in alternating voices, they keep it real and talk about everyday life experiences...smell dating, pets, online drunk shopping, recipes, New Year's Eve, etc.  Both women are equally funny and have no problem tackling sensitive subjects and making themselves the object of the joke. Thoroughly enjoyable!

I received an ecopy for a review.

I highly recommend this book if you or someone you know needs a laugh!

LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar award-winning novelist and coauthor of this series of humorous memoirs. There are 30 million copies of her novels in print, and she has been published in thirty countries. She and Francesca also write a Sunday column entitled Chick Wit for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with an array of disobedient pets.

FRANCESCA SERRITELLA is a New York Times bestselling author and a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for her novella. She lives in New York City with one dog and one cat, so far, and she is working on a novel.

#humorousbooks




6/1/17

Allie and Bea


Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Seattle: Lake Union Publishing, 2017. 392 pages. "Allie and Bea Book Club Questions. *****

Allie and Bea form an unlikely alliance when Allie's parents are arrested for tax fraud and elederly Bea becomes homeless after falling for an IRS telephone scam. Allie is placed in a foster home after her parent's arrest and is soon in over her head when one of the girls steals the only things that Allie owns and Allie files a complaint against her. Allie leaves the home when her life is threatened and finds herself in an even dire situation. Bea packs up her belongings and lives in her van with her cat to stretch what little money she has left.  One night as Bea is driving down the highway Allie jumps in front of her van, climbs in  and tells Bea to "Drive!"

I received an ecopy to review.

There is something so "right" in Hyde's stories, that feeling that there are good people in the world and everything is going to be okay. Allie and Bea are generations apart, but form a bond that enables them to survive without a home and little money. They each have their own concept of right and wrong and neither are willing to compromise on some issues and situations. Bea has forgotten what it is like to "live" for herself and Allie has lived a very privileged and sheltered life. There aren't always happy endings, but there are memories to be made and people to love. Hyde has a way of showing and not telling through her characters. Allie and Bea is one that you will want to share with your friends.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-two published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. For more information http://www.catherineryanhyde.com.

5/23/17

Favorites


I am often asked for book recommendations and it's so difficult to suggest a book because it depends on what I have been reading, my interests at the time, etc. I tend to like historical fiction, psychological thrillers, and mystery books.

Authors:
Fredrik Backman - http://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Fredrik-Backman/411545926

Elizabeth Berg - http://www.elizabeth-berg.net

Marie Bostwick - http://www.mariebostwick.com

Chris Cleave - http://chriscleave.com/about-2/

Patricia Cornwell - http://www.patriciacornwell.com

Michelle Cox - http://michellecoxauthor.com/about-michelle-cox/

Janet Evanovich - http://www.evanovich.com

Diana Galbadon - http://www.dianagabaldon.com

Sara Gruen - https://www.facebook.com/SaraGruenBooks/

Khaled Hosseini - http://khaledhosseini.com

Catherine Ryan Hyde - http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/blog/

Sue Monk Kidd - http://suemonkkidd.com

Anne Lamott - https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott/

Kate Morton - https://katemorton.com

B. A. Paris - http://www.darleyanderson.com/authors/b-a-paris

Anne Perry - http://www.anneperry.co.uk/miscellany/title-list/

Jodi Picoult - http://www.jodipicoult.com

Kris Radish - http://www.krisradish.com

Lisa Scottoline - https://scottoline.com

Lisa See - http://www.lisasee.com


Books:


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Series:

The Cousins O'Dwyer by Nora Roberts

Outlanders by Diana Gabaldon

Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt

#favoriteauthors #bestbooks




The Break Down


The Break Down by B.A. Paris. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2017. 328 pages. *****

Even though she promised her husband that she wouldn't, Cass takes a shortcut through the woods and sees a car stopped by the side of the road. Should she stop and offer help? Is it a ruse to harm Cass? There is a woman in the car and what if her car won't work? Guiltily, Cass decides to continue on home and not tell anyone what she saw. She is shocked to learn the next morning that a woman was found murdered on that stretch of road. Cass is so distraught and distracted that she begins to be forgetful and frightened when she receives phone calls and the person won't speak. Her husband humors her about her memory loss, but Cass is also haunted by the fact that her mother had dementia. What if the murderer saw her, what if she is losing her mind? The pills prescribed by the doctor make her drowsy and sleepy, to the point that she misses appointments and her friends become concerned for her welfare.

B.A. Paris is a master at building tension and setting the stage. Once started, I didn't want to stop reading. Having read her first book, I knew there was going to be a twist and something unexpected in the plot. While I deduced who the murderer was there were enough surprises that I wasn't disappointed. If you enjoyed Behind Closed Doors and like psychological thrillers, you will enjoy this one.

I received a copy for a review.

B.A. Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. @BAParisAuthor.

#whocanyoutrust #thebreakdown

The Story of Arthur Truluv



The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg. New York: Random House, 2017. 130 pages. ***** Available August 2017.

Arthur Moses climbs the steps of a bus every day with a packed lunch and a fold up chair to have lunch with his deceased wife, Nola.  Arthur is eighty-five years old and hopes to live to be one hundred. Since he started going to the cemetery, a part of a person's life story reaches Arthur as he passes the tombstone. It doesn't happen for everyone, just a few, but somehow he knows that what he sees is true about the person buried there. It is at the cemetery that Arthur sees Maddy for the first time and wonders why she isn't in school. He's not sure of her age, fourteen or fifteen, dressed in a t-shirt, ripped jeans with spiky black hair, she looks ready to run when she realizes he has noticed her. Maddy often visits the cemetery to take pictures and hang out until school is over for the day. When Maddy inevitably meets Arthur and hears his story, she nicknames him Arthur Truluv because of his love for Nola. Maddy is bullied at school and has no friends so Arthur is happy to take her under his wing. Arthur's next door neighbor, Lucille, is lonely, loves to bake, and invite Arthur to keep her company. All three bond by their loss, love, and need for understanding and friendship.

Elizabeth Berg's books resonate with people of all ages. She often writes abut circumstances that alter one's chosen path and unexpected possibilities that offer something better in life. She has insight that few share and can express. Berg made me laugh, cry, and wish for more. Her unassuming characters form a friendship that when it exists, it's to be treasured and valued. In the Acknowledgements, Berg writes about sending the manuscript to a friend with the hope that she "gets" it. I got it, loved it and will recommend it to friends.

I received an ecopy for review.

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many best novels, including Open House, Talk Before Sleep, and the Year of the Pleasures, as well as the short story collectionThe Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. To learn more visit elizabeth-berg.net or Facebook.com/bergbooks




4/26/17

The Perfect Stranger


The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. 267 pages. ****

When ex-college roommate Emmy suggests that she and Leah start over in a small town in Pennsylvania, Leah jumps at the chance. Leah has burned her bridges in Boston as a journalist when an article she has written puts her career and the newspaper in jeopardy. When Emmy disappears and a local woman is attacked, Leah's boring life as a teacher comes under scrutiny. Does Emmy even exist and what proof does Leah have that someone is stalking her? Sleeping with the detective on the case is probably another bad decision, but Leah is determined to convince him that she is the victim and not the liar that he suspects she is.

I received an ecopy for review.

I loved the book, All the Missing Girls, and couldn't wait until this new book was released. I started it and was immediately drawn in and couldn't stop thinking about it and wonder where the story would take me. I had some initial insights and thought I had figured it out. I was so wrong and I didn't guess the outcome. My only hesitation in reviewing this book is that the story seemed to fizzle out for me. Initially, I couldn't put it down and then it seemed to lose its momentum. Towards the end, as she is wrapping up the mystery, I am "what?" Maybe it is me, but I am disappointed.

Megan Miranda is the author of several books for young adults, including Fracture, Hysteria, Vengeance, and Soulprint. She grew up in New Jersey, attended MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Her novels for adults include All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger. Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter, or visit MeganMiranda.com.

#allthemissinggirls #psychologicalthriller


4/9/17

Quilt Retreat March 2017


Quilt Retreat, don't know what to take? Checkout my Quilt Retreat Checklist!



No matter how hard I try to cut back on what I take with me to Retreat, the "what if I need it?" mentality kicks in. My sister and I did share some tools; a cutting mat and rulers, iron and ironing surface. My pillow is an absolute must have!



 My sister and I had a very nice room, two queen size beds, and a huge bathroom. I always bring my own quilt and pillow, sometimes I coordinate with the season or just bring my Betty Boop Quilt.













The View from the room through the window. 
Blackrock Retreat Center is in a wooded area
 and is so peaceful.

Our rooms are located in the Main Building and couldn't be nicer!

 

The Main area has two working fireplaces, comfortable chairs, puzzles, and chess.






The Dining Hall has tables reserved for our group:  it is clean and inviting.











The food is served buffet style with salads, fresh fruit, entree, and vegetables. Dessert is always yummy and there is coffee, tea, lemonade, water available 24/7. Picnic Tables and a grill are on an outside deck.
 
Our sewing room was very spacious, we each had our own table with extra tables for cutting stations and snacks!

A few of the projects I worked on...


A mug rug for a friend from Cheryl Lynch's Philly Love pattern. I shrunk it 50% to make it a mug rug size.



I am participating in Pat Sloan's Summer Solstice Challenge!



I took a class last month with Erin Underwood at the Blue Hen Quilt Shop. Erin is a fantastic teacher and I love these "Fantastic Flying Geese!"


I also did a demo on making Easy Nine Patch Blocks based on Barb Vedder's method. My Quilt Guild is doing a nine patch block swap in July.

My Sister and I had a great time!


There were many fun activities planned:

  • Scavenger Hunt - who thought quilters could be so competitive?
  • Mystery Table Runner
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Demos
  • Door Prizes
  • Guess my Secret Game
There were many laughs and it definitely was a fun weekend!

#quiltretreat #summersolsticechallenge #phillylove #quiltretreatchecklist