Losing the Light

Losing the Light: a novel by Andrea Dunlop. New York: Washington Square Press, 2016. 327 pages. A Readers Club Guide. ****

Newly engaged and packing to move, Brooke Thompson agrees to attend a party given by her best friend's PR firm. What Brooke hadn't bargained on was seeing the guest of honor, a French photographer, who has haunted her life and memories of a year as an exchange student in the beautiful city of Nantes, France. Seeing Alex brings back painful memories of the betrayal of her friend Sophie and the complicated friendship they shared while escaping college life and the choices they made there. It is incomprehensible that Alex doesn't recognize her and Brooke is so thrown that she gives him her number and agrees to meet him the following Thursday. What he tells her challenges her perspective of what really happened 10 years ago and what part of it was real.

This debut novel is a haunting story of love, lust, friendship, and independence. The story told from Brooke's point of view leaves unanswered questions and emotions. What really happened to Sophie and if Brook had returned to France would the outcome have been different? Dunlop transports the reader into the world of a naive college exchange student introduced to the life of the rich and self-absorbed. An excellent choice for Book Clubs, a story ripe for discussion and debate.

I received a NetGalley ecopy from BookSparks as part of "My Winter is Booked Blog Tour" for a review. 

Andrea Dunlop is the social media and marketing director for Girl Friday Productions and lives in Seattle, Washington. Losing the Light is her first novel.



Blocks 2 and 3 - #TheSplendidSampler

Block 2  - "Wings" designed by Jane Davidson (Quiltjane). Jane provides excellent instructions, however, not an easy block to sew. Those squares are 1" each! There are 46 pieces in this 6inch butterfly block.

Block 3 - "Lots of Love" designed by Melissa Corry. This is probably my favorite so far to choose the colors. Went together beautifully!

Block 4 came out today, so stay tuned!

The Longest Mile

The Longest Mile: A Doctor, a Food Fight, and the Footrace that Rallied a Community Against Cancer by Christine Meyer, MD. Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2016. 220 pages. Publication date April 2016. *****+   Pre-order now at Amazon.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016, 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. Everyone has been touched in some way by this disease and when it strikes a beloved member of your family, most people are paralyzed by fear and despair. Being a doctor doesn't change that same feeling of helplessness and heartbreak. After several of her patients and her beloved Aunt and mentor Tant are diagnosed; Dr. Meyer is propelled forward by a need for hope and to do something. An impromptu run provides the avenue to make a difference by raising funds to fight this horrific disease and to provide needed support to cancer-stricken families. Rallying family, friends, colleagues and anyone who will listen, Dr. Meyer raises the money necessary for a team to run in the 2013 Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. Following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, this is truly an act of courage to run the race. That first race has led to a team of over 1400 members and the formation of the Team CMMD Foundation.

Written exactly the way this high energy physician speaks, this book about a very serious disease is gripping. Filled with determination, love, hope and tears; my words do not do her story and the story of her team justice. Dr. Meyer shares the glory with those people who support and love her and is careful to remind the reader that it is a team effort that has made her cause successful. Entertaining anecdotes about the team's fund-raising strategies humanize the seriousness of this killer disease. Empowering is the best word to describe this book and inspiring all who read it to believe in the words of Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." I highly recommend this book to all readers, it is a story that will have you crying, cheering and opening your checkbook; but be warned, it will make you want to do more with your life. Dr. Meyer is clever that way!

I received an Advanced Reader Copy for a review. I requested to review this book because Dr. Meyer is my primary care physician. 

Christine Meyer, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine born to first-generation Egyptian immigrants. She grew up learning about medicine and food from her aunt Venis Fanous, MD. Her medical education took her from rural South New Jersey to the halls of an esteemed medical college in Philadelphia. It was there that she met her husband of twenty years. Together, the Meyers are raising their three children in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Meyer is the founder and managing partner of Christine Meyer, MD and Associates. In addition to practicing full-time, she enjoys writing a Blog entitled Despite My Medical Degree, which provides a humorous look at the challenges of work-life balance in a two-physician household. 

In 2012, Dr. Meyer founded Team CMMD Foundation. The Foundation's mission is twofold: to support local cancer-stricken families struggling with the financial burdens of their illness and to raise money to fund cancer research. Follow the Foundation on their Facebook page.

In November 2015, Dr. Meyer was named Philadelphia Magazine's 2015 Be Well Philly Health Hero. The $7500 cash prize will be earmarked for pediatric cancer research and support.


Quilt Retreats

Quilt Retreats are a great way to bond with Quilt Guild members, make new quilty friends and get away from the distractions of home. Some Retreats offer workdshops or tutorials and it's informative getting feedback from others while working on your quilts.

Whether you are planning one or an attendee, there are some crucial elements to make the time successful.
  • What exactly are the accomodations---do you have a roommate? Need to bring your own linens, towles, pillow? 
  • Are meals included?
  • How close is the nearest Quilt Shop? 
I've compiled a Quilt Retreat Checklist to help with your planning. Customize to suit your needs. Some quilters seem to bring everything, but the kitchen sink.

If you are planning the Retreat:
  • Adequate  power, bright lighting and comfortable chairs are essentials. Make sure there is enough room at each work station. My sister and I had back to back workstations and it was great sharing space and materials.

  • Comfortable height of cutting and ironing stations. Adjust if necessary. 

  • Communicate with attendees as to whether snacks are encouraged in the sewing area.
  • Is alcohol allowed at the venue or in the rooms?
This particular Retreat was at Ocean City, MD so the view from my room was spectacular!

Another was in a rural setting and the view was so appreciated after sewing for hours...

I have learned that I need to escape sometimes from the chatter and clatter of the machines and take a walk or sit on a porch to relax. 

Plan some OPTIONAL activities and games: (Not everyone likes to participate)
  • Pinterest has many creative ideas for activities, games, challenges, etc. I've started a Quilt Retreat Board.
  • One Retreat I attended had Swap Tables which were available on Saturday night. Bring something related to sewing and quilting and take what you want.

  • Holiday or special theme: I attended a Retreat in October 2015 so I went with the Halloween theme and decorated my machine and made a Halloween quilt for my bed. 

And last, but not least...Have FUN!


After You

After You: a novel by Jojo Moyes. New York: Pamela Dorman Books, 2015. 352 pages. ****

In this sequel to Me Before You, Louisa Clark works in an Irish-themed pub at the East City Airport and wonders what it must be like to travel and leave everything behind. She's grieving the loss of Will Traynor and still can't imagine life without him. Returning home at a quarter past one, she finishes off a bottle of wine and seeking fresh air, climbs unsteadily up the fire escape onto the roof of her building. Startled by a voice in the shadows, she falls off of the roof. Returning home to her parents while recuperating, she is forced to face her past and the rumors surrounding her fall. Feeling vulnerable and unsure of her future, her world is turned upside down when someone from Will's past visits her and inveigles herself into Lou's flat and heart. Lou eventually must decide whether to go forward and "live" or keep herself closed off from love and hope. 

This emotionally charged story had me wanting to keep reading and yet afraid of what was next for Lou. Her boss at the Pub can't believe the situations that occur in her life that cause her to be late and absent from work. The drama of it all left me quite breathless at times, wanting to laugh and trying not to cry. I did not read Me Before You, but I recommend that you do so before reading the sequel. It stands alone as a novel; however the first book is so highly acclaimed, I have it on Hold to read next from the public library. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will certainly read others by Moyes. 

JoJo Moyes is the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, The Ships of Brides, and Honeymoon in Paris. She lives with her husband and their three children on a farm in Essex, England. Visit her at www.JojoMoyes.com

Block 1- #TheSplendidSampler

Block One - "Hearts Aflutter" designed by Pat Sloan for The Splendid Sampler.  I am so glad it was an easy one. I decided to hand stitch the heart, hand-stitching slows down the process and I love the feel of the fabric when I am sewing. I am debating whether to make another today...1. because I really like this block and 2. because I may fall behind and then I will have an extra to fill in.
 Decisions, what to do?


Newest Project

Pat Sloan and Jan Shallala Davidson (QuiltJane) have joined forces with other designers to create a year long project, "The Splendid Sampler." The Project begins February 14th and two 6.5 inch block patterns will be available each week. Details are available at: The Splendid Sampler

I have decided to join in the fun and will be posting my blocks and the quilt in progress. Many different sewing techniques will be employed in the process and mine will be made with Tula Pink's Saltwater fabric line. I had purchased a layer cake and some yardage to create a "bento block" quilt and since that did not happen, this project will be a good use of that fabric. I am really trying to downsize my fabric stash.

If you would like to join in the fun, Pat Sloan has created a Facebook Group, "The Splendid Sampler" with over 10, 000 members and counting! Come join me!