In The Game

In The Game: The Highs and Lows of a Trailblazing Trial Lawyer by Peggy Garrity. Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2016. 238 pages. ****

In her Prologue, Garrity sums up her philosophy of life, "Women who play by the rules are doomed. What an injustice. I vow then not to let men, marriage, or motherhood take over my life." It will be the convent for her, that is until she becomes pregnant and gets married her senior year in college. Garrity faces an insurmountable challenge in her chosen career--fewer than 3 percent of lawyers were women and certainly not single mothers. This compelling memoir records Garrity's life as a mother and game player in the legal system, defending high-profile clients by day and mothering her four children at night. Being brilliant in the courtroom does not equate to being smart in her personal life,  Garrity acknowledges her poor choices, failed marriages and affairs. Her many and varied experiences make for an entertaining and engrossing story that drew me in and kept me captivated. I will definitely read her next book, Justice Delayed.

I received a copy for a review from BookSparks.

Peggy Garrity grew up in the Mississippi River hamlet of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, population 6,000--a town with two Catholic churches, four Catholic schools, and fifty bars and pubs. After attending night school for five years and having three babies, she was admitted to the California State Bar in December 1975, and soon went on to launch a solo practice. She retired from the full-time practice of law in December 2004, but remains committed to the law through her writing, consulting, legal commentary, and handling a few select civil rights cases. Garrity also teaches yoga and meditation privately. The LA Times published her op-ed about the Halliburton rape cases, "About that Day In Court," in 2008, and she is currently at work on her next book---a legal thriller, Justice Delayed. Garrity is a doting grandmother of six.

@BookSparks #MagicofMemoir

Everything We Keep

Everything We Keep: A novel by Kerry Lonsdale. Seattle: Lake Union, 2016. 329 pages. Book Club Discussion Questions. ****

Aimee Tierney has crafted an ideal life for herself: work in her parent's restaurant, marry her childhood best friend and sweetheart and buy her parent's restaurant when the time comes. What Aimee doesn't count on is the apparent death of her fiancĂ©e and attending his funeral on her wedding day. Accosted by a psychic and told that James is still alive, Aimee begins to question everything about her life. Is James still alive and if so, why hasn't he contacted her? Have her parents sold their restaurant to someone else? 

I really enjoyed the many twists and turns in this story... well crafted and convoluted. There were just enough surprises to keep the story moving quickly. I like a story that keeps me guessing and yet is not contrived; I look forward to more from Lonsdale.

I received a copy for a review.

Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women's Fiction Writer's Fiction Writers Association, and an online community of authors located across the globe. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who's convinced she's still a puppy. Everything We Keep is Kerry's first novel. Connect with her at www.kerrylonsdalecom.

@BookSparks #FRC2016


Quilter's Stash Box

Quilter's Stash Box from Quilter's Bug is a monthly surprise box filled with lots of quilting related goodies (patterns, thread, etc.)  and fabric. The box is 12 inches square by 2 inches deep, the perfect size for storing 12-inch quilt blocks and works in progress. The boxes are easily stacked on a shelf and a label pocket is included to keep you organized.

There are many levels of subscription available as well as occasional speciality boxes, more information at https://quilters-bug.myshopify.com/collections/subscribe-to-quilters-stash-box.

Quilter's Stash was kind enough to send me a box to review and use as a door prize at my Quilt Guild.

Included in this monthly box... a really cute sewing machine bracelet....sew sassy buttons...invaluable clover clips...the Creative Grids Non-Slip Half Square 4-in-1 Triangle Ruler...a charm pack of gorgeous Lecien fabric...two spools of luscious Aurifil thread...all quality products!

One of the best aspects of this box is the 'Cut Loose Press tab divider system" CLP patterns are printed on 8-1/2 x 11 card stock, hole punched so you can keep them in a binder. The tabs at the right of the page indicate "Project Time" "Fabric Type" and "Project Type" and the featured pattern seems to be "beginner" friendly with clear directions and supply list. Two patterns were included in this box which uses the Triangle Ruler. 

I did a Google search on the items in the box and the total value is over 60.00!

A lucky quilter will win this box at Tuesday night's meeting!

Christine Rushton is the winner!


Quilt Show 2016

Brandywine Valley Quilters has a Quilt Show every other year and this is the year. The theme is "Quilting, what a novel idea!" The amount of planning is phenomenal from the theme to the program to the many members who make quilts, it is a class act.

This show I worked the first day in Receiving...the quilts are brought to the venue, checked in, looked over (threads clipped, animal hair removed with a lint brush, and checked for stains) and placed on a table in preparation for judging. The quilter receives a receipt to collect their quilt on Sunday. A new twist this year was to record a 30-second video of the quilter and the quilt to be used in a QR code. The code will be on display with the quilt.

The quilts are sorted by technique, type of quilting, etc.

On the second day of preparation, the quilts are judged by professional quilters against a pre-determined criteria. The judges will select the quilts to be awarded ribbons. This is the first time I have entered quilts to be judged. I entered four quilts in various categories and it is nerve wracking to think that someone will judge my work.

Because the theme is "novel" related, the decorations and signage were designed to reflect a library.

There was a line outside on the first morning of the Show.

Members outdid themselves in making items to be sold in the Boutique!

A new innovative idea is to add a "QR Code" to each quilt description, this allows the viewer to scan it and to hear the quilter talk about the quilt.  The name tag I wore was cleverly made by the Quilt Show Chair.

My Granddaughter and I were very surprised to win a ribbon for our "Wizard Wonderland" quilt! I pieced the panels with her supervision and she machine quilted it on the HQ Sweet Sixteen. 

The quilt received a "Harry's Choice" and a "Youth" participation ribbon. Harry is the maintenance man at the venue where the Quilt Show is held and he chooses one quilt to receive his ribbon.

Her reaction is priceless!

Harry, Shae and me!

Receiving the judge's comments after the show was enlightening, I am sharing them in the hopes of educating you as to what the judges are looking at in each quilt.

 This quilt is a "Round Robin" Quilt, "Promise." I created the center block and quilt guild members added rows to it. I added the last row to make it bigger.

Judge's Comments:
Interesting color choices
Straight lines need to be straight
Try to maintain traingle points
Quilting fills spaces well
Outside edge needs to be straight
Binding corners on the back need to be consistent with the front

"Connections" designed by my husband, Bob.  

Judge's Comments:
Very good use of complementary colors
Color and shape placement works well on this art quilt
Piecing generally well done
Quilting is appropriate
Quilt stitches vary in size and tension problems
Starts and stops visible
Binding well done

"David" This was created to represent Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne in Steampunk style. The Guild Challenge was to create a quilt to depict a "book" "author" "genre" etc. to fit the theme of the quilt show. 

Judge's Comments:
Gradation of background fabric was well chosen and adds depth
Embellishment well chosen for theme
Applique needs to be secure 
Machine quilting fills space well, tension problems noted
Nice choice of backing fabric

The Quilt Show was a wonderful and educational experience. The next BVQ Show will be in October 2018. Will I do it again? You betcha! 

#quiltshow #quiltshowribbon #judgedquilts


Saving Our Sons

Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success by Clayton Lessor with Lisa Canfield. St. Louis, Quest Project Press, 2016. 186 pages with index. *****

Targeted for mothers of teenage boys, Lessor has written a book that is relevant to all mothers and fathers. Lessor has worked with boys for 20 years and draws on that experience to explain and identify the problems faced by fatherless adolescent boys or those without an appropriate male role model. His historical perspective on how a father's influence has changed from working together on the farm to the absent, abusive, or distracted father and the impact of these societal changes on the maturity of young men. My favorite lines from the book, "Adolescent boys don't understand that becoming a man, at its core, means stepping up and accepting responsibility. They don't even know what that means."

Lessor explains The Quest Project, a once-a-week ten-week schedule of meetings to help a boy in a group/community setting to uncover his pain, face it and heal from it. The very first project included a group of eight troubled boys, who ranged in age from sixteen to eighteen years old. It grew to include activities for the Mom and son to work on outside of the sessions in an effort to better understand each other's perspective and point of view.

Eight boys and their families agreed to have their stories shared in the second half of the book. These stories of survival and success are inspiring and hopeful.

I highly recommend that this book be made available to single mothers, in high school guidance offices, and in doctor's offices. The guidelines for when to seek help are invaluable for a mother in the trenches.

Purchase a copy and gift it to a single mother of an adolescent boy, you will be doing both of them and society a huge favor.

I received a copy for review.

Clayton Lesser, MA, LPC is the founder of the Quest Project, an intensive, 10-week group program that helps troubled adolescent boys overcome their challenges and learn to be healthy, responsible young men. He lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri. More information at www.claytonlessor.com.

The Regulars

The Regulars: a novel by Georgia Clark. New York: Atria Books, 2016. 391 pages. ***

What if you and your best friends could change your "regular" look into your fantasy super model self for one week? Evie, Krista, and Willow are in their mid-twenties, trying to survive and find a niche in NewYork surrounded by successful, beautiful women. With one drop, a purple magic potion, "Pretty" will transform an average looking person into a totally different, glamorous, gorgeous, and successful woman. Willow, the first of the three, to try the magic potion is so transformed that her family and boyfriend don't recognize her. What starts out as a lark soon becomes complicated when their new selves are treated differently and they realize that the potion may not be the answer to what is holding them back from realizing their dreams.

This is an interesting story, part Alice in Wonderland, part horror, and realistic fiction. What looks fabulous and enviable from a distance, isn't always what it seems. Clark paints a realistic picture of the age old adage, "the grass is always greener..." and the ramifications of buying into a superficial lifestyle. Evie gets the girl of her dreams, Willow becomes a successful artist while seducing her boyfriend as Caroline and Krista gets the role of a lifetime. Laughs, tears, lots of sex, betrayal, and angst rolled into a story that will have you asking yourself, will you take the potion or walk away? Me, I'm not so sure.

I received a copy for a review.

Georgia Clark is widely published in women's and lifestyle magazines, has written for TV and performs improv. She is the author of YA novels She's with the Band and Parched. A native Australian, Georgia lives in Brooklyn with her girlfriend and a fridge full of cheese. The Regulars is her first adult novel.

#bestsummerever @Booksparks


Naked Mountain

Naked Mountain: A Memoir by Marcia Mabee. Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2016. 289 pages. ****

"There's a mountain for sale." Marcia didn't know how that statement by a realtor in rural Virginia would change her life forever. Facing many setbacks and heartache in her life, escape from cancer, despair, and grief comes in the form of unexpected natural beauty. The wildlife and flora indigenous to her retreat help her regain strength and renew a commitment to preserve it for future generations.

Mabee writes a heartwarming memoir of unexpected love, friendship, survival, and grief. She has a gift for storytelling and recreating painful past memories. Cancer survivors may find strength and hope in her unwavering determination to overcome the many obstacles she encounters.

I received a copy for a review.

Marcia Mabee is a retired Washington, DC, lobbyist. After serving as professional staff for a committee of Congress, she represented nonprofit health associations before the Executive Branch and Congress for twenty-five years. She holds multiple advanced degrees, including a PhD in health policy, an MPH, and an MSW. She has published in the American Journal of Surgery and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons and has written chapters for medical and nursing textbooks. She currently writes a blog about living in the middle of the Naked Mountain Natural Area Preserve, a property she and her deceased husband, Timothy Bell, purchased in Virginia in 1988. An ovarian cancer survivor, she also writes about her cancer and grief recovery. Naked Mountain is her first book.
Marcia can be contacted at: marcia.mabee@gmail.com, or through her blogsite: www.nakedmountain.net.

#magicofmemoir @booksparks