Sunday, January 26, 2020

January UFO Update

I've had a couple of sew days this month at my house and have gotten to work a bit on my January UFO Talkin' Turkey. I am almost done with the last round on the 30 blocks. Then, I will need to make sashing and assemble the blocks and do the borders. Piece of cake! All of the units are done. It is just a matter of sewing and pressing and sewing some more! Last week, I pressed the units.


Last night, I decided to take a break from decluttering and I started attaching the units to the center of the blocks. I'm hoping that I can finish the blocks up in the next few days and get the top assembled by next weekend.


Speaking of decluttering, I have been following the 91-day declutter challenge from Mary Organizes blog. I tried this challenge a few years ago and got hung up in the kitchen. This year, I made great progress in my bedroom and bath and am hung up on the kitchen again. BUT! Next week is the laundry room which isn't much in my house so I am going to keep at the kitchen. My goal is to move all of my sewing/quilting items back upstairs into my studio but in an organized manner. It feels so good to get some things out of the house that I am not using or needing anymore. I've been working on selling things and things are moving out slowly but surely!

And I got the dogs new fleece jackets for the cold weather. Lula likes to wear hers and her tail is wagging non stop when we walk and she has it on. Kinsey, on the other hand, has to be goading into wearing it when I know it's cold enough outside that she needs it.


Book Reviews - Nothing More Dangerous, A Crafter Quilts a Crime, and Lock Every Door

Nothing More DangerousNothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boady lives in a small town in the Ozarks in Missouri in the mid-1970s and he is saving money and dreaming of when he can run off and make a life of his own. Sure, he will miss his dog and his single mom, but life with her is stifling him since his father was killed some 10 years prior. Boady spends his days trying to be invisible at school, talking with his neighbor Hoke, and roaming the woods around his house. Then an African-American woman disappears along with a $100K from the local plant which is what keeps the town, and most of the people in it, afloat.

The plant sends in a man to begin an investigation into the missing money. The man is African-American and moves his family in across the the street from Boady's house and Boady and the son, Thomas Elgin, are the same age. Boady shows Thomas the woods around their houses and the boys become fast friends. Mrs. Elgin even befriends Boady's mom who starts to come out of her depression.

This is a very moving story about race relations during a tumultuous time in our country. Before The Elgins move in across the street, Boady has very little interaction with anyone who is African-American. He begins to see how people who appear different are treated differently.

Allen Eskins is a fantastic author! This is the third book that I have read of his and a first stand alone from the two series he has written. The pace of the stories is always great and the plot twists are always unexpected. I highly recommend this novel and his others!


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A Crafter Quilts a Crime  (A Handcrafted Mystery #3)A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley for my honest review.*

Sammy is the owner of Community Craft in Heartsford, WI and came up with a live mannequin display for the Fire & Ice event in January. Everyone seems crazy about the idea so Sammy is pleased until the second live mannequin, Wanda, dies in the window. And then Wanda's husband goes missing and someone receives a ransom note for his return. The SHEs set off to clear Ellie's husband's name and to find out what is really going on.

This was my first time reading Holly Quinn and the Handcrafted Mystery series. Since this wasn't the first in the series, I wonder if I would've found it more enjoyable if I had read from the beginning. I felt that there were things that I would've known if I had read the first books - ie who was Brenda and why is everyone acting like Detective Nash is "back?" Also, there were times where Sammy seemed to be badgering people with questions and, when the next person got a chance to speak, they wouldn't answer or wouldn't answer everything. *I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley for my honest review.*

Sammy is the owner of Community Craft in Heartsford, WI and came up with a live mannequin display for the Fire & Ice event in January. Everyone seems crazy about the idea so Sammy is pleased until the second live mannequin, Wanda, dies in the window. And then Wanda's husband goes missing and someone receives a ransom note for his return. The SHEs set off to clear Ellie's husband's name and to find out what is really going on.

This was my first time reading Holly Quinn and the Handcrafted Mystery series. Since this wasn't the first in the series, I wonder if I would've found it more enjoyable if I had read from the beginning. I felt that there were things that I would've known if I had read the first books - ie who was Brenda and why is everyone acting like Detective Nash is "back?" Also, there were times where Sammy seemed to be badgering people with questions and, when the next person got a chance to speak, they wouldn't answer or wouldn't answer everything. I'm on the fence about going back and reading the other books in the series.


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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jules is jobless and broke and just broke up with a cheating boyfriend so staying on a friend's couch. She answers an ad that turns out to be for an apartment sitter in the Bartholomew building in NYC and thinks that it is a dream job. Getting paid to stay in such a famous building while she job hunts feels to good to be true. As she starts to meet the residents and the other apartment sitter, she learns that it may not be the dream job she was expecting. And when the other apartment sitter disappears in the middle of the night, Jules starts to look into the disappearance and all of the strange things that have been happening.

To me, this book had a different feel than Sager's last books. I did not expect the twist - I thought it was going a different way. But thinking back, it all makes sense how it was laid out. For once, it was nice for a main character to have money stress as most characters seem to have an infinite source of income while hardly working. I think it made Jules' stress a little more real and easier to connect with her.



Friday, January 10, 2020

Book Reviews - Lost Among the Living and Coached to Death

Lost Among the LivingLost Among the Living by Simone St. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jo Manders' husband was shot down in the War. His aunt, Dottie, hired Jo as a paid companion out of respect for Alex and they toured Europe while Dottie bought pieces of art to bring back home to resell. Jo and Alex were not married for very long before the War and Dottie seems to take pleasure in throwing out bits of information about Alex to make Jo remember how little she actually knew about him. After the tour through Europe, Dottie takes Jo back to Wych Elm House to live and meet more of the family. Dottie's husband is distant and when Dottie's son, Martin, returns from the War, he is battling internal injuries. Dottie intends to marry off Martin and Jo, but Jo has never received an official death notice for Alex. Martin and Jo become friends and have long talks where she learns about the mysterious death of Dottie's daughter. Jo also hears from villagers about the strange happenings at Wych Elm House and she has to contend with someone moving her things around in her bedroom regularly.

So much going on, but I really enjoyed everything about this book! The mysterious happenings and the haunting and the beast in the woods.... And the reveals..... It was a very well plotted out novel with a bit of paranormal activity. I highly recommend!


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Catherine Cooper is starting over. She has sold her company and divorced her husband and moved to the Hamptons where she built herself a new house. Her friend, Gilley, is living in the guest house and Cat is now trying to start a new Life Coaching business and make a life for herself in East Hampton. In fact, she has an luncheon to attend at her neighbor's house the same day that she meets her first life coach client and is a little taken aback when Heather, the neighbor, asks her to bring the punch. When Cat and Gilley arrive at Heather's with punch in hand, they are directed to walk to the back of the house. Turns out, Heather had Cat dress in black and white and the real lunch guests assumed she was The Help. And then Heather winds up dead with Cat's punch bowl in shards around the body.

I have read the Psychic Eye series by Victoria Laurie and I love it! I have not read any of the Ghost Hunter series so I am familiar with Cat insofar as she has been in the Psychic Eye books and not at all familiar with Gilley.

I absolutely loved this book! It was fast paced, the characters were fantastic, the plot hit all the right notes with me. I was not expecting some of the antics that happened and I have a feeling that some of the characters will be in future installments of the series. I can't wait to see how Erma shows up again!

I am absolutely going to read the next book in the series when it is released and I will definitely be recommending this book to friends!


Sunday, January 5, 2020

Book reviews - Sins of the Fathers, The Other Wife

Sins of the Fathers (J.P. Beaumont #24)Sins of the Fathers by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been 2 long years since the last installment of the JP Beaumont series.

This was a really good installment in the series!

Beau is enjoying his retirement and enjoying his time with Lucy, the dog who made a memorable impression in the last book, Proof of Life. One day, Alan Dale shows up at his door with a baby in a carrier. (Alan and his wife showed up in a previous book, but I can't figure out which one, but just enough of that story is laid out in this book.) The baby is 6 weeks old and was born addicted to methadone and then abandoned by her mother. The baby is Alan's granddaughter and his daughter has gone missing and he wants Beau to find her so that he can get full custody of the granddaughter.

As Beau starts his investigation, I did have some guesses about where it was going to go and how everything was going to be intertwined. How he gets the clues and fits them together is always enjoyable to follow for me. There was a lot of revisiting his old haunts and some 'cameos' by characters in previous books. It was nice to sort of catch up with some of those characters.

If this is the last installment in the series, I would be happy with how it ends. If there are more books, I will be thrilled to continue along on the journey with Beau and Mel!


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The Other WifeThe Other Wife by Claire McGowan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**I received a Kindle version of this novel as a giveaway on Goodreads.**

Suzi has a secret. And she thinks that no one else knows what it is.

Suzi's husband, Nick, has moved her to a remote cottage and paid for massive renovations to make her more comfortable as she is expecting. Nora, a recent widower, has moved into the run down cottage across the road and Suzi is hoping that with a new neighbor that she won't feel as lonely. But her secret is weighing her down. But Nora already knows the secret. And Elle spends her days trying to make her husband happy and anticipate his every want and need, but he spends his time gaslighting her. But what do these three women have in common?

The novel is told from the points of view of Suzi, Nora, Elle, as well as a detective 3 months from the main storyline. As the story develops, we learn that there are things that Suzi thinks are private that Nora is aware of. And there are things that Nora observes about Suzi's and Nick's lives that Suzi is oblivious to but that seem blatantly obvious to the reader as well. Nick has very much isolated Suzi in a remote area without a car and he is very controlling of her life.

This was a fast paced thriller with a few twists thrown in that were unexpected. The progression of Nora's intentions through the book was unexpected, but understandable. Some questions were left about Elle's back story, but I didn't find the unanswered questions troublesome. There were no parts that I felt stalled the story or were extraneous to the story. There may have been a few parts towards the end that could have been expanded on, but I don't feel that this took away from the story.

Claire McGowan is a new to me author and I enjoyed the flow and the balance of the story as well as the writing in the novel. I will be reading more of her novels.



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New Year, New UFO Challenge

Happy late holidays! I spent the week after Christmas with my folks in Florida and it was a nice and relaxing time! Then back to reality and month end at work. I am behind on my book reviews and hope to catch up this week.

I was also late getting my UFOs for the 2020 UFO Challenge together. All of my quilting items are still a mess in the basement, but I was able to unearth enough to put together 12 projects.

  1. Aviatrix - carried over from last year
  2. Memories of Monet - kit I've had since I worked at Best Friends Quilt Shop that closed many years ago.
  3. Judy Martin log cabin - kit I've had cut for many years
  4. RWB quilt for Matt - still don't have fabric, but that pattern was picked out a couple of years ago when he moved in for 2 months. Also was a carry over from last year.
  5. Tucker University BOM - only a couple of years old and most of the blocks are finished.
  6. Literary Lounger - a kit from several years ago
  7. Pinwheel Puzzle - Kit since BFQS years
  8. Queen of Hearts table runner - a thimbleberries kit so many years old, too
  9. Talkin' Turkey - from a Bonnie Hunter class maybe 4 years ago
  10. Jellystone - a kit from a few years ago
  11. Twinkle - a kit from my current quilt shop so maybe from 2 years ago
  12. Jammin' Jelly - a kit cut out last fall
Over the weekend, I had a day to organize my recent finished tops and some of the table runners that I want to get done. I got everything paired up with the backings and made sure I had bindings. I made 2 backs and one binding. The stack in the front is all of that on top of a bag from a customer with her quilt and back in it. In the back are 3 quilts - 2 need binding stitched down and one is a rag quilt that needs snipped. Quite a bit of work to do!



The dogs are exhausted just seeing all the work to be done!