The Guest Book

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. New York: Flatiron, 2019. 486 pages. *****

It is 1935 and Ogden and Kitty Milton have the perfect marriage. Their life is untouched by the stock market crash of 1929, which was the worst economic event in world history. They live in a high rise in New York City, untouched until an unthinkable accident occurs. Ogden purchases a house on Crockett's island in an attempt to woo Kitty back into the world of the living; nothing in their WASP backgrounds has prepared them for an unexpected loss. Blake's premise is that each of us has a defining moment in our lives that will alter the course of our future.  Kitty's "no" uttered on a porch in 1936 will haunt her for the rest of her life. Three generations of Milton’s have different memories and experiences in the house on Crockett Island, but its hold and the reasons to keep it in the family overshadow the present generation left as caretakers with no funds to continue the legacy. Each visitor to the island and house must sign the Guest book which serves as a reminder of happier times.

Told in alternating voices and time periods, Blake has a magical way with words that transported me to the time and place in this story. The sights and the sounds on the island enriches her message and serves as a stark contrast to the issues of race, economic superiority, and privilege. Drawn immediately into the story, I was hooked on wanting to know more about the Miltons. Nothing in their privileged background prepares them for the challenges and changes that their children and grandchildren will face. This is a book that will haunt me, the story seems prophetic to today's changing values. What is the defining moment in my life, will I recognize it and answer selflessly or like Kitty will I only think of myself? I've read some reviews of this book and they are not favorable, I have to question if we read the same book? I absolutely recommend this book for Book Clubs and some stimulating discussion.

Sarah Blake is the author of the novels, Grange House and the internationally best-selling The Postmistress; a chapbook of poems, Full Turn; and Runaway Girls, an artist book in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

#theguestbook #historicalfiction


The Long Call

The Long Call (The Two River Series, book 1) by Ann Cleeves. New YorK; Minotaur Books, 2019. 384 pages. **** Publication Date September 3, 2019.

Set in North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn returns to his roots and stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. Matthew is not welcome since the day he  stood up in his family's strict evangelical service and announced that "none of this is true. I'm sorry, but I don't believe any of it. You must be mad if you think it's true." When he left the university, took a job and fled the community he grew up in, he lost his family too. Returning and buying a house does not redeem him in the eyes of the community especially since he is now married to a man. He gets a call from his team that a body has been found on the beach close to his house. Discovering the identity and the kiler of the victim, leads Matthew into a world he thought he had left behind--- a world of greed, religious fervor, and intolerance. When two special needs girls go missing, community secrets are exposed!

I am a huge fan of Vera, the television series, so I am already a Cleeves fan. Her writing transports me to whatever village or town  the story is set in and her characters come to life there. Cleeve has a unique writing style and reading her work is like listening to a friend tell a story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to read Book 2. Well-done!

Ann Cleeves is the multi-million copy bestselling author behind two hit television series―the BBC’s Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall, and ITV’s Vera, starring Academy Award Nominee Brenda Blethyn―both of which are watched and loved in the US. 

The first Shetland novel, Raven Black, won the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger in 2017. She lives in the UK.
To learn more about Ann, visit here

#thelongcall #mystery

The Security

June 23, 2019

The Security by Robert J. Morrow.  Canada, 2019. 324 pages *** Worth reading 😎 Publication October 1, 2019.

Natalie Grainger enjoys her life as mistress to the wealthy William Travis Benton, or Benny as he is known. Looking glamorous and attending corporate functions was just one of the many perks of her chosen life and this one just happens to be on a tourist cruise boat off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The fact that Benny's wife is also present doesn't faze Natalie especially when she meets the handsome Drew Canton. When the boat is rammed by another one and is in danger of sinking, Natalie and Drew jump into the water and swim for it. The story takes a turn when Emma, Benny's wife, disappears in the chaos of the boat evacuation and everyone is suspect. Natalie is whisked to a safe location with Drew as her bodyguard when Emma is believed to be kidnapped by the Dutchman. Natalie has a hard time figuring out her role and why her life is in danger. Eventually, Natalie discovers that Emma plotted her own kidnapping to get Benny's money without having to divorce him and that Natalie is the security and the backup if Benny refuses to pay. Emma and Drew's connection surprises Natalie and complicates Natalie's escape from the island where the nefarious Dutchman is holding her. Throw in FBI and CIA secret agents and Natalie loses track of who the good and bad guys are and whom she can trust.

Suggested as a psychological thriller, it is fast-paced and an easy read. Somewhat predictable in the plot line, the characters are well developed and likable. There is a twist to the story at the end (no spoilers here) that amused me. Perfect for beach or travel reading, it's easy to get absorbed in the story. Romance, exotic locations, perfect escapism reading. I can absolutely see this one as a movie.

Robert is now a full-time author and his #1 bestselling real estate books have helped thousands of people profit from the largest investment they’ll ever make. Robert’s true passion is fiction, however, and his debut thriller, “New York Fried”, introducing former CIA trainer turned chef, Artichoke Hart, was an instant hit. Robert currently lives in Southern Ontario where he continues to write fiction, assist other authors, and aid investors to realize their dreams in real estate.
To learn more, visit https://robertjmorrow.com.

#psychologicalthriller #thesecurity


A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles. New York: Random House, 2016. (Large Print) 719 pages.  ****

"Towles immerses the reader in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. " If the Count leaves the hotel, he will be killed, so the Count settles in and adapts to his new home. When he is moved from his suite to an attic room and only allowed to take a few personal belongings with him, He manages to extend his living space to the room next door and create a cozy study. While dining in one of the hotel's restaurants, he is befriended by Nina Kulikova, a precocious nine-year -old. Their friendship spans decades and provides a nice sublot to the horrors experienced by the Russian people. The visitors and employees in the hotel become the Count's family and even though he is confined by his sentence, he lives a somewhat charmed life.

 I enjoyed this novel and have heard many rave reviews about it. The story did lag for me in some sections of the book, but I kept going to find out what happens to Nina and her daughter Sofia. I was tempted to research the events and places mentioned as I read it, however, I decided to just enjoy it as written. Towles has a style of writing and weaving his tale that the atrocities experienced outside of the hotel seem not to exist. Other reviewers have suggested that it reads as a fantasy or fairy tale rather than historical fiction. Whatever label you assign to it, it's a delightful tale of friendship, loss, and love.

I received a copy of this book through an Instagram #quiltersbookpassport. Someone posts a book that they are willing to share along with 4 fat quarters of fabric. Ten people may claim it and the owner sends it to the first person. That person has 30 days to read it and keeps the original fat quarters and sends 4 of her own. The last person sends it back to the owner. I've read a few books this way and have not been disappointed in the book or the process.

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University.

Mr. Towles’s first novel, Rules of Civility, which was published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book has been translated into over 20 languages, its French translation receiving the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald.

Mr. Towles’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was published in 2016, was on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year in hardcover and was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and NPR. The book has been translated into over thirty languages including Russian. In the summer of 2017, the novel was optioned by EOne and the British director, Tom Harper, to be made into a 6-8 hour miniseries starring Kenneth Branagh. For more information about Amor Towles

I mailed the book and fat quarters to the next name on the list and added a needle holder to the package. Great fun!

#quiltersbookpassport #agentlemaninmoscow #historicalfiction


Mosaic Quilt

Mosaic Quilts

I love the look of Mosaic Quilts and have made two minis, so when Cheryl Lynch asked if anyone is willing to be a guinea pig for a new class, I jumped at the chance. Two days to create a mosaic under Cheryl's tutelage, sign me up! 

There were 4 of us the first day and 5 the second day. We were to bring a picture, drawing, or an outline of what we wanted to make. I had no idea where to even start, so I canvassed my friends for ideas and received several good ones. I took three images with me: an octopus, hot air balloon and a. girl with an umbrella.  The other participants already decided on what to create: a wine bottle and a glass, an anchor, a house and a scene with an adirondack chair. I chose a hot air balloon.  

Choosing colors is next. It's not as easy as I thought. Previously, I had purchased kits from Cheryl's Etsy shop and the fabric is included. I recommend that if you are new to mosaics that you purchase a kit. Cheryl's instructions are clear and easy to follow and the fabric is already chosen for you.

I started with black and orange for the top of the balloon and this is as far as I went the first day. After taking it home, I didn't like it...too stark and too much like Halloween.

I redid the top section with brighter colors.

I am liking it much better. Cutting the pieces is super easy with Cheryl's Mosaic Cutting Guide. The ruler is worth every penny. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

Containers for the 3/8 inch "chicklets" can be purchased at the Dollar Store, Jo-Anns or Michaels. The whole process is addictive and very similar to working on a jig-saw puzzle. Very zen!

I decide that I need a cloud to add to the overall effect. Adding it was more challenging than I thought it would be.

 The mosaic is complete!

Choosing the borders comes next, I have no preconceived ideas as to color! I purchased a map fabric for the back which seemed appropriate.

Auditioning some potential borders.



Binding is on, it's done!  Thank you Cheryl Lynch!

I posted about making mini mosaics here

#mosaicquilts #hotairballoonquilt #hotairballoonmosaic @cheryllynchquilts

2019 Monthly Color Challenge - June

June - Sundaze Blaze Starflower (Orange)

June's block can be found here on Jen's Blog.

For me the most difficult part of any Block of the Month (BOM) is choosing the fabric.

The flower looks like a combination of yellows and oranges. I pull fabrics from my stash that I like and then sub-organize them into color families or tones.

One of the most important steps in sewing any sections of a block is taking the time to iron the seams correctly. Press the seam before opening it to set it. Then press in the direction that Jen indicates on the pattern, if no direction is given, press to the dark side. 


Using a 4.5 inch ruler to square up the blocks is not necessary, but it helps. A rotary mat makes it easy to rotate the square to trim.

When you are squaring up these sections, line up the center point and trim from there.

I tend to pin seams that I need to match. 

Taking a picture will show you whether you have your blocks and rows lined up correctly.

A Quilt Guild member introduced me to this wooden seam clapper. A great tool for flat and multiple connecting seams. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF4nKm8umLA

My finished block! I am glad I added a light fabric with a little yellow in it. 

I tend to view each block as a separate entity and now wish I had tried to match them into the whole.

Not knowing the finished layout, I believe it will still be beautiful when completed.

Check out the other Bloggers this month for some more tips and tricks!

Patterns by Jen 

Textile Time Travels

#2019monthlycolorchallenge #juneblock #orangeblock