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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Yowsa. Guys, I have a new autobuy (well, auto-read, I rarely buy) author. Remember when I read Part Time Cowboy and loved it so much? I had already requested the next book in the series (this one), and even though it wasn't coming out for months, I could not resist jumping into it. I couldn't stand not knowing how she brought Connor back to life. Was I disappointed? No, not at all. In fact, I'm chomping at the bit to read Kate's story too.

Here's your summary:
There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much… 
If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he's concentrated exclusively on his family's ranch. Until Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That's what friends do. What friends don't do? Start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it… 
Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she'll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…

Friends to lovers! Cowboys!  Explosive hot attraction! This book has it all.  I am turning into such a fan girl.

Ok, so. Connor is grieving madly. He married his high school sweetheart, his first love, who tragically is killed in a car accident. (Years before the series starts. This is no spoiler.) Connor is frozen in time. He's so afraid to move on and take another chance at life, at all. He's not just afraid to love again, but to enjoy any part of life. He's even afraid to put himself back into the ranch. He really just wants to stay home and drink himself to sleep every night so that he can't feel anything. But... mayyyybe it's all fear, and not so much mourning, not when he really examines it. Can he possibly let go of his fear? Connor has so many terrific quirks and his history is pretty entertainingly straight and narrow. He was so believable in both his grief and his struggle to hold onto it.

Liss' last relationship ended badly as well, for both the relationship and her credit when her ex took off with her new truck and made some new debt in her name. Now her landlord is selling the house and Liss has no place to go because no one will rent to her. Connor wakes up from his stupor long enough to realize that a good friend would let her live with him, and offers her a room. Liss has some reservations, she HAS been in love with him for most her life, but doesn't see that she really has a choice. Things start off friendly, but heat up pretty quickly in such close quarters. They both fight so hard to not let it happen, and then to not repeat it, and then not not feel anything else, and then it all dissolves in bewilderment and heartache. (Before the requisite happy ending, of course.)

Did I ultimately believe in their love story? Yes, I did. Was the tension and the dialogue every bit as delicious as Part Time Cowboy? Yes, it was. Did I love ALL the book to pieces? Well, no. There were moments when I really felt uncomfortable about the way Liss felt about Connor. She was willing to take whatever scraps he'd give her before and after the death of his wife, and while she certainly didn't put her life on hold while he was married, she seemed pretty internally desperate to be with him, and only him. I'm a huge fan of friends to lovers, and this typically would not be a turnoff for me, but something about it gave me a tiny tiny twinge of uncomfortableness. All that said, I'd still give it 4.5 stars on Goodreads, if that were possible, and will likely just go on and give it a full 5.

Brokedown Cowboy is released today.

Monday, May 25, 2015

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland

As you all know, I'm completely obsessed with English Paper Piecing. I've been steadily working on my daughter's full size hexagon quilt for going on 3 years now. Naturally, when a title about EPP popped up on NetGalley, I had to grab it.

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland is a lovely book, even in e-book format. She covers many different shapes and details how you might baste them different based on size and angles and curves. There are sections on supplies and how to make or buy your templates. She talks about the importance of paying attention to directional prints (which I'd read that a year or two ago!)  There are diagrams of the best way to assemble them into different patterns and layouts. Like all quilting books, there are sample projects you can make- pillows, table runners, etc.. If you were new to EPP, or if you didn't have internet access this would be a terrific starter. Or maybe you like to sit and read an actual book? Then this is for you.  This would also make a lovely gift if you were trying to get a friend hooked- this book and some papers and fabric would bundle up nicely. Perhaps you know someone who disdains technology and would enjoy it? 

The cons: as with all quilting books, I can't quite see the point of many of the projects. I have no desire to applique a hexagon to a dish towel. And quite like with cookbooks, I found there wasn't much here that I couldn't find with a Pinterest search. I freely admit that I'm an oddball in that I love books, but I can't see owning many of them.

Overall, a lovely book if you want to sit and hold a pretty book about quilting, but nothing particularly groundbreaking. All Points Patchwork will be released on June 2.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just One Taste by Kimberly Kincaid

Just One Taste by Kimberly Kincaid is the next book in her Pine Mountain series. While I still haven't found time and read the first two, the ones that I have read keep getting better and better.  After reading, Fire Me Up, I was impatient to read Jesse's story and was really thrilled to find that it was up next.  I was slightly sad to discover that it is a novella but it certainly holds up.

Here's the summary:
Jesse Oliver was a medic in Afghanistan, but back home in Pine Mountain he's happy to switch gears as the Double Shot bar's new sous chef. When his apartment floods and his old Army buddy offers the family's dilapidated lake house as temporary quarters, Jesse thinks a little remodeling on the creaky duplex sounds like a fair return favor. That's before he sets eyes on the gorgeous woman moving into the other side of the cabin—and discovers she's his buddy's kid sister, a.k.a totally off limits.

Kat McMarrin has fought hard for her space, and she's not too interested in sharing it. Of course, her job as a physical therapist means she won't see much of Jesse, even if he's a few thin floorboards away—unless she seeks him out. And with his sculpted body and slow-burn gaze, she might be tempted. Maybe the fixer-upper projects she has planned for the cabin will keep her mind off him. Or maybe her instincts to strip the place down will get out of hand…

This little story was really perfect in every way. Kat and Jesse are both strong, independent people. They are capable and happy in their own way, and when they get together they hit that perfect note of loving each other, but not being dependent on each other.  They both have a fairly sad childhood (what is with that lately? All the Maisey Yates characters had a sad childhood too!) but while they are shaped by it they aren't hiding it away or trying to use it as an excuse.

The very best part of the book tho, is the relationship between Jesse and Kat's older brother. They are military buddies and trust each other to the core. Gabe's trust is such that he insists that Jesse share a duplex with his baby sister, and Jesse is determined not to break that trust. This is always always a favorite theme of mine, and it did not fail me here.  If I had any quibbles with the book, it's that it takes place over a very short time period (but then, it IS a novella.)

I'm really happy to be finding new contemporary authors to glom onto and can't wait to read the next in this series.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Taryn's Quilt

Our beautiful and smart niece Taryn graduated from high school this weekend. She was very active in sports all through school and is attending college with several scholarships, including one for volleyball. It was a given that she would want a quilt made from her school shirts.

To be completely honest, tshirt quilts are pretty far down on the list of things I enjoy making, but that's not something you say no to. Her school colors are black and red, but she requested that I use lime green for the accents. I had my doubts but it turned out really good. I choose to piece the back with a variety of fabrics, and I could not resist adding some hexies.  The gray swirly ones came from Lauren's quilt, for a little special connection.

I'm linking up with Trish's Inspiration Monday (Yes, I know it's Tuesday) so please go over and check out what everyone else is inspired to do.

Friday, May 15, 2015

5 Unnecessary Things that Make Life Better

Sometimes there are things that make life better or make you happy that are just so little that you feel a bit silly mentioning them to anyone else. Here are 5 things that have made me happy recently.

1. Windex Touch-Up Cleaner. This seems so silly to mention, I mean, how much easier is it than a spray bottle, really? We have this at the sinks at work and it has become habit to come in and use it to clean my glasses daily.

2. Tiny bottles. We use these at the coffee maker for vanilla extract, to mix oil and vinegar for salads, and to take things like salt & pepper in our lunch. SO handy.

3. Chapstick Aloha Coconut. Actually, all things coconut.

4. Pop Up Post-it Notes. This is one of those things that I laughed about when I heard of them, but wow, so handy.

5. The Carousel App from Dropbox. I set it up on all the phones, including Tristan's, and it automatically uploads all photos when the phones are on wifi. I can see what my kid is taking pictures of (see above!) and I can feel safe that all MY pictures are backed up without my having to do it. It's dropbox, so I can share and sort online without trying to do it from my phone. And, best of all, it's free. (Except I pay for more storage, but if you already use dropbox for other things, that may not be an issue for you.)

What tiny things do YOU love lately?

Friday, May 08, 2015

Five Random things on Friday

And you thought I'd stopped doing Random Friday!

1. I'm fascinated by the idea that your morning routine is a factor in your success. This has come up over and over in blogs I read and podcasts I listen to, and I've begun to requesting library books and seek out more podcasts on the topic. A partial list of what I'm hoping to eventually read: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, The Miracle Morning, Daily Rituals.

2. Another idea from a podcast, and this is very loosely paraphrased so I am not linking, is that nutritionally poor food does not signal that you are full to your body, precisely because it does not have the nutrients that your body is seeking for that signal. Therefore you continue to feel hungry and you eat more and more to fill that hunger. This makes a ton of sense to me, esp after completing the Sugar Reset.  My family is moving more and more in the whole foods direction (but not all organic, because I live in South Dakota and "fresh" is hard enough!)

3. We have a new flower bed where there was wasted space before. This is the first time in my life that it's been me job to fill a bed and not just maintain someone else's. I threw myself on the mercy of the greenhouse lady and came home with a box of perennials that I hope will flourish- if my dog would stop lying in them. (I got: this weird curly thing, purple salvia, coral bells and pink phlox.)

4. The boat and the camper have been tuned up and small repairs made. We are READY for summer! Now if the weather would cooperate. I have every other Friday off this summer, starting May 15th.. That is a lot of boating and camping. I Can. Not. Wait.

5. We have started taking a family "hike" on Sundays. (It's pretty flat here, it's mostly a family walk in the woods.) It's lovely and calming and so far everyone is enjoying it.

See the white line on the tree? That's the water line from the flood in 2011.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Summer on Lovers' Island by Donna Alward

Last week was a very long and tiring week. Work was super busy and Mike was gone a lot of evenings and I ran non-stop for days. Thursday night at bedtime I took the boys to bed and as I was sitting in their room waiting for them to settle I started reading Summer on Lovers' Island. I had absolutely no intention of sitting in that chair until I finished it, but that is totally what happened. Then I had to restrain myself from texting Katherine at midnight to see if she'd read it. It was that good.

Here's your summary:

What happens when a seasonal fling turns into the love of a lifetime? 

Lizzie Howard's life has always been adrenaline-charged. Top of her class at Harvard Med and now a gifted trauma doctor, Lizzie's medical career has always come before rest, relaxation, and especially romance. But when one careless mistake brings her future to a screeching halt, Lizzie's only chance at reviving it is to temporarily take over a friend's practice in Jewell Cove. 

The sleepy Maine coast, a world away from the bustling emergency room Lizzie knows and loves, leaves her feeling more lost than ever--until she meets widowed doctor Joshua Collins, and her heart starts beating a little bit faster...

Summer on Lovers' Island is the fourth book in the Jewell Cove series and I'll admit it took me a few minutes to remember who the other characters were - which town is this? Lucky Harbor? No? By the third chapter or so I had a firm grasp on where I was again, and it wasn't  an issue. It probably isn't really an issue to anyone, I just like to know my landmarks.  It's true that it would be helpful to read The House on Blackberry Hill first to hear the other side of Josh's back story, but this one fills in it well enough.

Josh and Lizzie are both trying hard to live up to what they think everyone else expects of them. Lizzie believes that the world thinks she has to be amazing, because her dad was and she's struggling with giving that image up. Josh feels like he has to be the town golden boy and present the world with the facade that he mourns his wife, when really he is ready to move on.  He struggles with not feeling good enough for love, even as the whole world loves him.  They attempt a reasonable summer fling but quickly come to realize that their rules aren't working.

Was the romance itself believable? If you could believe, as I did, that Josh and Lizzie really see each other clearly, then it was completely acceptable that they would fall in love. It happens over the course of a summer, which is much more realistic than some romances. There's a scene near the end where a misunderstanding causes Josh and Lizzie to have a fight, and unlike some big misunderstandings, the emotion and the confusion are heartbreakingly real. I didn't feel like rolling my eyes and calling them idiots at all.

Jewell Cove is your typical small town, in a small town contemporary romance. Everyone knows everyone, there are two places to eat, and if you want to go on a date you have to leave town or everyone knows.  Everyone is related somehow.  This is a true comfort read to me, and the longer I'm in Jewell Cove the more I like it.  (I especially appreciate that while everyone knows everyone and it's constantly considered a small town there isn't a special forces training camp and a special burn unit hospital and a all-star football team and if you know this town you may also read small town contemp romances.) I'm really not sure who Alward can write about next, but I am certain I'll be reading it.

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