Stitching A Life

Stitching A Life: An Immigration Story by Mary Helen Fein. CA: She Writes Press, 2020. 304 pages. ****  (YA, grades 7-9)

Based on the true story of the Grandmother of the author, Helen Breakstone Fein. Helen was born (Hinde) in a small village in Lithuania to a poor Jewish family with no prospects for improvement or education. Her brother was in danger of being drafted into the Russian army at the age of twelve, so her father devises a plan for his family to go to America. Chaim Breakstone immigrates first and sends money for sixteen-year-old Helen to join him. She arrives at Ellis Island, meets her father and moves into her Aunt Rose's apartment on the Lower East Side of New York. Rose helps Helen find a job in the thriving garment industry and she and her father devote themselves to bringing the rest of the family to join them in the New World. Helen and her family build a new life and settle in New York.

A young adult inspirational story of resilience against all odds, family, friendship and love. Combining fact with fiction Fein tells the brave story of her grandmother traveling by ship to America by herself and the sacrifices she and her Father make to have the rest of the family join them.

I received an ecopy for a review.

Mary Helen Fein was born in New York City in 1943. She attended schools in New York and began writing at the age of twelve when her mother died. Writing has ever since been an important part of her life,  a way to understand and process life's events. Today she lives in Northern California, where she owns her own website design company, writes, paints, and teaches Insight Meditation. In 2014, she published her first novel, Loss of Deliverance -- the story of a young woman's adventures in the drug trade during the 1960s. For more information --www.maryhelenfein.com



Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay: a novel  (Clay Edison book 3) by Jonathon and Jesse Kellerman. New York, Ballantine Books, 2020. 368 pages. ****

Deputy Coroner Clay Edison has a new baby, is working the night shift, just trying to survive and to get some sleep. What he doesn't want is the discovery of a decades-old skeleton of a child while workers are excavating a local park. Members of the community don't want the park replaced by a college building and this find fuels their protests. When a local businessman calls to suggest the identity of the skeleton could be that of his missing or dead sister, Clay is drawn into a mystery that may be best left buried. What other secrets are buried with the skeleton and will Clay be able to protect his family from the violence and threats?

I received an ecopy for a review.

This is the 3rd book in the series, however, it can be read as a stand-alone. I have not read the first 2 and enjoyed the story. (I will probably go back and read the others and future books). I am a Jonathon Kellerman fan especially his Alex Delaware series and have read a few novels by his wife, Faye Kellerman. What a talented family! An entertaining mystery with a few unexpected twists and turns, total escapism. Any parent can identify with the sheer exhaustion of Clay and his wife and sympathize with the mother of the dead infant. There are many parallels in this page-turning plot which tie the mystery together.

From Amazon...
Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than three dozen bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, True Detectives, and The Murderer’s Daughter. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored The Golem of Hollywood and The Golem of Paris. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California, New Mexico, and New York."

For more information on Jonathon Kellerman, http://www.jonathankellerman.com
#mystery #fathersonauthors #mysteryseries


the book of two ways

The book of two ways: a novel by Jodi Picolt. New York: Ballantine Books, 2020. 432 pages. Publication Date September 2020. *****

"Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong."

Dawn survives that plane crash and is faced with her life choices when told to "leave everything behind" Dawn had not contemplated her own death, what is a life well-lived, what is left unfinished? She has spent the last 15 years working as a death doula living a normal life with a husband and a daughter. A death doula helps those who are dying and their families transition the inevitable. Dawn is well-suited to the task, but it takes caring for someone her own age to cause her to question her life choices. Dawn throws caution to the wind when the airline offers to take her wherever she needs to go and she soon finds herself in Egypt seeking what she left behind 15 years ago; the man she once loved and an unfinished dissertation on The Book of Two Ways -- the first known map of the afterlife.

I have always been fascinated with anything Egyptian and curious about parallel timelines, so this book pulled me right in from the very beginning. I had never heard of a death doula and had to look it up. (more on that subject at the end of this post) One line in the book really struck me, "somewhere, in a parallel timeline, there is another me at my funeral." Picoult has the gift of tackling tough subjects, presenting controversial topics cloaked in fiction and leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. The book of two ways is a story of love, friendship, secrets, promises made and not kept, choices and responsibility. I can't wait for someone I know to read it so we can discuss it, I have been talking about it all day to my husband, it is one of those books. I recommend it for Book Clubs, some fabulous discussion points.

The quote at the beginning of the book is so apropros "To die will be an awfully big adventure." J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

For more information about Jodi Picoult, visit https://www.jodipicoult.com
To learn more about her research and see pictures of her trip to Egypt: https://www.jodipicoult.com/the-book-of-two-ways.html

For more information on death doulas:
Becoming a death doula

#deathdoula #paralleltimelines


Sister Dear

Sister Dear: a novel  by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Canada: Mira, 2020. 368 pages. Publication Date May 26, 2020. *****

Eleanore Harwicke has always wanted a traditional family, a mother and father who loves her and a sister as a best friend. Instead she is estranged from her mother and sister, never feeling good enough or accepted for who she is. The only constant in her life is her loving father who is in hospice and dying. Eleanore happens to overhear a conversation between her parents suggesting that her father is not her biological father and that she is the product of an affair. Eleanore makes it her mission to seek out her father and his family and to determine if he knows of her existence. She soon discovers that she has a sister who is beautiful, successful, and has lived the life that Eleanore has dreamed of and always wanted. Inveigling herself into her sister's and husband's lives allows Eleanore the opportunity to vicariously live the life that should have been hers and to get back at her father and mother.

Sister Dear is one of those books that draws you in from the very first chapter. It reminded me of those suspenseful movies where I squirmed in my seat and kept muttering, "don't open that door," "don't go in there." I thought I had it all figured out, however, was I surprised. McKinnon has a diabolical mind and has created a psychological thriller with a surprising ending (no spoilers here). I recommend this book for the sheer fun of it. Fans of B.A. Paris and Mary Kubica will enjoy McKinnon as well.

I received an ARC for a review and I am particpating in a Blog Tour!

“Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, or an early mid-life crisis, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion, started writing, and never want to look back.”

For more information on Hannah Mary McKinnon, https://hannahmarymckinnon.com.

Hannah Mary McKinnon is available to join your Book Club to discuss her books, information at https://hannahmarymckinnon.com/book-club/

#sisterdear #psychologicalthriller


Quarantine Quilt Along #2 - Hope

Quarantine Quilt #2 - HOPE

 I participated in my 2nd Quarantine sewalong on Sunday, May 3rd, 2020. 

The first Quiltalong was Elvira on March 22, 2020. 

This quilt was designed by Gudrun from Gedesigns for the second Quarantine Sewalong. I had the choice to pay 2.00,  5.00, or 10.00 for the pattern. All proceeds from the sale during the sewalong are going to 3 charities Hope Breakfast Bar St. Paul, Girl Scouts River Valleys Cookies For A Cause, and Chefs Feed Our Front Lines.

The pattern can be purchased here. Gudrun provides youtube videos throughout the day and all of the information is available on her website. It's a fun day---Gudrun's husband creates a playlist of music on Spotify, Gudrun provides recipes for snacks and cocktails, guest speakers and shortcut hints. 

I used a layer cake and a navy Moda solid. 

The blocks are easy to assemble.

Two of my favorite tools while sewing this design. The 10 inch square to square up the blocks. The numbered pins to keep the blocks in order while sewing them together.

Placing pins in the squares helped keep them in order when I picked them up to sew together. 

Gudrun has many suggested layouts in her pattern booklet and on her website, someone posted this layout on the FB page - Gudrun's Quilt Crew and I loved it. 

HOPE is sewn together! I am trying to decide if I want to applique the word "Hope" in the center of the heart.

The next decision is how to quilt it and should I do it myself or send it out to be quilted?

The sale of the pattern raised $35,000.00 for the three charities listed above. 

#hopequilt #qqal2

I enjoyed making this quilt so much, I decided to make it again. A friend's daughter is having a girl and wants a pink baby quilt. I love how it turned out. I am sure there will be other Hope quilts in my future!


A Child Lost

A Child Lost: A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel by Michelle Cox. She Writes Press, 2020. 409 pages. ****

In this 5th book in the series, Henrietta is despondent after her miscarriage and Clive is worried and willing to do anything to help her recover. He begs Sergeant Davis to pass on any cases that can help launch their detective agency. Henrietta's sister, Elsie asks for their help in finding Liesel Klinkhammer, the German woman Gunther has traveled to America to find and the mother of the little girl, Anna, whom he has brought along with him. The search leads them to Dunning Asylum, where they discover horrific news about Liesel. When Liesel's child, Anna, is herself admitted to the asylum after an epileptic fit, Clive and Henrietta return to Dunning to retrieve her. While talking to one of the patients, Henrietta begins to suspect that there is an evil presence at work on the wards. One of the cases from Sergeant Davis is a spiritualist woman who is suspected of taking advantage of and robbing people. What begins, as an open and shut case gets complicated when the spiritualist shares information with Henrietta and Clive that no one could possibly know. Does she really communicate with the dead or is someone helping her with information? Henrietta begins to think that she may be losing her mind.

After reading A Veil Removed I couldn't wait to read this one. I was not disappointed! Thankfully, it was on sale through Amazon and I was able to purchase the Kindle version. I love the way Henrietta stands up to Clive and the way that women are treated rings true for the time period. Elsie comes into her own in this book, her feelings for Gunther and Anna driving her actions. The way the mentally ill are treated gives Henrietta a cause to fight for even at the expense of her own health.  Cox provides background and notes on the places mentioned in the book, Dunning Asylum was a real place and she shares stories about this horrific place. A sad testimony to our treatment of fellow human beings. Henrietta and Clive are determined to solve the mystery of the spiritualist, support Gunther and Anna, and regain the closeness they lost during their bereavement. I look forward to the next book in the series, even though I read the book in a day. I am captivated once I start it.

Michelle Cox is the author of the multiple award-winning Henrietta and Inspector Howard series as well as “Novel Notes of Local Lore,” a weekly blog dedicated to Chicago’s forgotten residents.  She suspects she may have once lived in the 1930s and, having yet to discover a handy time machine lying around, has resorted to writing about the era as a way of getting herself back there.  Coincidentally, her books have been praised by Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and many others, so she might be on to something.  Unbeknownst to most, Michelle hoards board games she doesn’t have time to play and is, not surprisingly, addicted to period dramas and big band music.  Also marmalade.  For more information about the series, http://michellecoxauthor.com/a-girl-like-you/

#achildlost #historicalfiction


Quarantine Quilt Along # 1 - Elvira

May 2, 2020

It’s done!! Bound in red, I love it!

March 21, 2020

Gudrun of GE Designs has designed a Quarantine Quilt Along,  Elvira  for March 21st and 22nd. In order to participate, you had to register your email and join Gudrun's Quilt Crew on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/gudrunsquiltcrew. I received the pattern on Saturday, March 21st and had a difficult time trying to decide what size to make.

Gudrun has offered the pattern in 4 sizes, she also has her videos on Youtube, GEDesigns. The pattern is now on sale at GEQuilt Designs. These is the fat quarter bundle I chose by Riley Blake.

My suggestion is to read the pattern thoroughly, watch Gudrun's Youtube Videos and then start. I miscut some of my fabric and it was tight to get enough pieces to do a lap quilt.

Gudrun recommends cutting off the points to help line up the block correctly.

When sewing the block together, remember BOB--- bias on the bottom.

After sewing your blocks together, it is a good time to clean your machine! This fuzz is from this quilt top.

My top is finally finished and I text my longarm quilter to see if she is taking quilts. She is and she can get the toilet paper quilting pattern from Urban Elementz...I drop off my quilt on her porch. Returned in a few days for pickup, maintaining social distancing, no human contact!

Susie of Quilts on Wawaset does a fantastic job quilting it!

Next, search my stash for an appropriate binding. The back is a black and white batik.

Completed quilt pictures will be posted when done. A fun experience during difficult times, thank you Gudrun!

#elvira #quarantinequiltsewalong  @gedesigns

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - May

May - Budgerigar (green)

For more information on this colorful bird, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budgerigar

Download this month's block on Patterns by Jen blog.

I have two shades of green in my stash, I think the lighter one is a better choice for this block.

Cutting out the individual pieces of the block confirms that the lighter green is the one.

When trimming the individual section, it helps to have a template and a rotating mat. 

There are sponsors offering prizes, make sure you upload a picture of your block each month. Full list of sponsors on Jen's blog.

Check out this month's bloggers:
Pattern by Jen
Quilt'n Party
Dragonfly's Quilting Design Studio

Follow me on Instagram kathy.nester

#2020monthlycolorchallenge #mayblockBudgerigar