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Monday, September 15, 2014

Hexagon update #23-2014

I haven't updated in a while! Summer has been so busy and we haven't had a ton of sitting around time. And maybe I might have tested out a new EPP pattern as well...

I've made 25 more flowers, bringing my flower total up to 50.


And then I saw someone's La Passacaglia quilt and fell in love. I've long been planning that my next EPP quilt would be mixed shapes and while I expected that I'd invent my own pattern, now I don't have to. I ordered a small set of pieces to test it out.


The pieces are so tiny that it's like a while new technique. In fact, I couldn't figure out how to thread baste them so I had to learn to glue baste. I've done very little- I'm reserving it as a reward for when I've had a long day or have worked "enough" on the pink quilt. This one will take me even longer than the pink one, in the end.

As always, linking up with Jessica at Life Under Quilts.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Swan Point by Sherryl Woods

Waaaaay back in college, my friends and I used to read a lot of romances featuring pregnant women and babies by choice. Not just because a series we liked went there. We sought them out. I know. One of the authors that we loved was Sherryl Woods. After college I moved on, and I relegated Woods to the category of authors who wrote books about babies and I never looked back. This summer a friend of mine mentioned Woods and I thought I'd take another look. Happily Swan Point has no babies at all on the cover. It does, however, have children in it.


Here's the summary:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods draws readers back into the world of strong friendships and heartfelt emotions in Serenity, South Carolina

Determined to build a new life for her family after her divorce, Adelia Hernandez has bought a home in the historic Swan Point neighborhood of Serenity. Promoted to manager of Main Street's most fashionable boutique, she feels revitalized and ready for a fresh start as a single mom. But barely into this new independent phase, she crosses paths with the sexiest man to hit Serenity in years.

Gabe Franklin, back in town to make amends for past mistakes, has no intention of settling down, but Adelia's proving irresistible. Cheered on by their friends, "the Sweet Magnolias," Gabe is bringing long-absent passion and laughter into Adelia's life. To his surprise—and hers—sometimes a rolling stone is just what it takes to build the rock-solid foundation of a family.

So as I said, there are children. Adelia is a single mom of 4, fairly fresh out of a publicly embarrassing divorce. Her self-esteem has taken a giant hit, and she's pretty much brand new to the world of both dating AND being anything other than a mom. She really opens up in the book and starts to accept that yes, she CAN have something that she loves as an individual, something that she's not just doing for the benefit of her children. I'm learning that when done well, I don't mind the addition of children to a book, if they are there as part of the new family and not just for comic relief.

By the same token, Gabe has a lot of growing to do. He has to overcome his past in Serenity and learn to deal with the parts of being in a small town that scared him off before. He falls for Adelia pretty much before he even talks to her, and while his words insist he can't stay, can't do it, his heart and brain is telling him otherwise. While he does insist a TAD too long that he's not right for relationships, he manages to pull it off in the end.

The romance in this one is sweet and flirty. Any action is behind closed doors other than a few stolen kisses. It's believable and I enjoyed it a lot. The biggest flaw of the book are the Sweet Magnolias (been there done that, see also Fool's Gold) and basically all the name dropping from the other books in the series. Books like this make me really appreciate Lucky Harbor, where you might meet people from other books, but it's not a challenge to squeeze them all in. Would I read another? Yes, I would. Would I recommend it glowingly like I do Lucky Harbor? Not yet.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Texan's Twins by Pamela Britton

Back to those Rodeo Barons! The Texan's Twins is the fourth book in the series, and the third one with kids in it. I don't know. I like the series and the adults and I'm not finding the kids to be too distracting, but I don't usually find the addition of them to be incredibly romantic. So much of the plot line revolves around the kids. And the more of this I write, the more I realize that perhaps the appeal of these books (that is, books with kids in them) is NOT a "baby hungry biological clock ticking" way but in a "single parents deserve love too" way. I'm going to need to think on this more. There is definitely a difference in my mind between a book like the first Barons book (where the hero and heroine are pregnant from a one night stand) and this one (where the heroine comes into the story with 5 year olds.) One is about wanting a baby with a person and the other is falling in love with someone else AND their kids.

Ok, long intro, what's it about anyway?

Definitely Not Daddy Material!

Jasmine Marks is focused and hardworking, and when she took a job as engineer for Baron Energies, she left behind her support network. Now, the burden of caring for her twin girls is all on her, and she doesn't have time for a dilettante playboy like Jet Baron. Besides, she needs her job, and she can't blow it by getting involved with the boss's son.

On the surface, Jet Barron is a dabbler, dropping into work one day and riding rodeo the next. But when he makes his mind up, he goes for it, full-out. He knows a lot more than anyone suspects, about the oil business, about women. And this woman needs someone to count on—which will be Jet, if he gets his way.

First, the characters. I really enjoyed both Jasmine and Jet in this one. Jasmine is exactly as described. She works her behind off to provide for her girls and is successful at it. She's also realistically exhausted and stressed to her limits, and a health scare does not make it easier. She turns to Jet for comfort, because she has no one else and she can not resist his offer. She's terrified to start to care for anyone and insists to herself that this is just temporary, a way to ease stress. She doesn't see at all this is what love is all about. Jet has a honestly earned reputation as someone who can't be taken seriously. He understands why that is but he kind of chafes at it, as he isn't really as flighty as his reputation seems. Jet has been pulled into Baron Industries because of his father's injury (Really? How long can that take to heal anyway?) and while he has no desire to take over the company, he is legitimately happy to be working there. He especially loves working with the newest engineer, Jasmine. Jet falls fast and never really denies what he feels even as he is amazed by the possibility, and when things finally implode (in a scene I have never seen in a romance!) he gracefully steps out of the way for Jasmine. It is thoughtful and kind and makes me love Jet more.

Even the addition of the two little girls doesn't really distract from the story here. They are always present (Jasmine is a single mom with no other support, this is a plot point) and the story is very much about Jet falling for all three of them. Was it a perfect romance? No, but it was very good and I read through it very quickly. I am still enjoying the series very much, with two books remaining.

The Texan's Twins was published on September 2.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Burned by Sarah Morgan

Remember how much I loved Sleigh Bells in the Snow? Ever since I read that one I have been religiously watching for any Sarah Morgan books on NetGalley. Burned was released back in May, and I even requested it then, but I'd pretty much forgotten it was on my Kindle.  Burned does NOT fit the same mold as the other Sarah Morgan books.

Here's the summary:
Join London's hottest martial arts gym now!
Every girl needs some self-defense. But at Fit and Physical, you'll learn martial arts and get fit at the same time. Look great, feel better and kick a little butt! Check out one-on-one personal training with our favourite karate black belt, Rosie Miller. She loves her job, the world of martial arts, and her life is just…well, brilliant.
Trainer and martial artist Rosie Miller's zen is seriously compromised when Hunter Black—her former coach and lover—becomes her new boss. With all the sexual energy still crackling between them, her poor little zen doesn't stand a chance. So this time, Rosie is determined to do more than put up self-defense. She and Hunter are going to play by her rules….

Ok so once again I feel like the summary isn't really accurate. (Who writes these things anyway?) It's true, Rosie is a trainer and a black belt, but all isn't sun and roses for her, and everything goes from crummy to awful when Hunter buys her gym.  This is a novella and there really isn't enough space for any outside conflict, so all the problems with their relationship come from within. Within Rosie, to be specific. Rosie and Hunter have a past- he was her first, and he walked away from her five years ago. Rosie is absolutely certain that he left because she was so clingy and she's mortified to have been that way. She barely gives Hunter a chance to explain his reasons and I found her insistence on her past immaturity to be a bit annoying. She really was very young and Hunter leaves to give her a chance to grow a bit. Once he's back in the picture, he's  much less resistant to a reunion than Rosie.

I'd give Burned a C for romance and plotting, but much higher for the sexual tension level. This book is part of the Cosmo Red Hot Reads series and it definitely shows. Would I read another one of these? Probably if it were by a recommended author, but otherwise there really wasn't enough meat to the story.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Just to show you that I occasionally break out of my romance loving life... I recently read Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn. I had read both of Flynn's other books (The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School) and enjoyed them both tremendously. When I saw this one, I was anxious to read it as well.

Here's the Summary:
A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry
In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your
Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parents’ pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarence’s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication. Brimming with warmth and wit, this book is sure to appeal to Flinn’s many fans as well as readers of Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, and Julie Powell

You might wonder just how many foodie memoirs a person has in them. I know there are authors who are able to keep churning them out, each with it's own spin and each as good as the last. Sadly, I didn't feel that this one was quite as strong as the previous two. I did enjoy it, and it's a fun quick read, but I didn't feel like the food related quite so much, and that possibly it was a stretch to try and center this one around food as well. As a family history that is not about food, it was pretty average, and not entirely memorable. For example, I read it last week and honestly can only tell you the barest of details. I didn't try any recipes and I can only remember what a couple of them were for, let alone why they were relevant. This seems a very negative review, and I didn't dislike the book at all, I just think perhaps I only liked it as much as I did because I had a history with the author's books. I would definitely recommend starting with the other two books before this one.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good was published on August 14th.

PS. I totally wrote this weeks ago and thought I published it. Imagine my surprise to find it still in my drafts!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan

Talk Sweetly to Me, the last installment of The Brothers Sinister series went up on NetGalley yesterday. I requested it and downloaded it before bedtime. Somehow, magically, the Bug and the Princess (who are we trying to kid here, Noah and Lauren) were both in bed asleep by 8:30. (Thank you back to school!) Instead of being productive and cleaning my house, or being a good friend and reading Outlander (sorry Trish!) I went right to bed and stayed up until I finished it. This sounds like a terrific feat of endurance (for me, I rarely stay up late) but sadly Talk Sweetly to Me is a mere novella. (I just wanted to throw in one more set of parenthesis here.)

So what is it about?

Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She’s a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper’s daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She’ll take obscurity, thank you very much.

All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He’s an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he’s also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn’t just a scandal waiting to happen. He’s waiting to happen to her…and if she’s not careful, she’ll give in to certain ruination.

All of the Milan books that I've read have some kind of social issue. I like this, it gives a depth to the books that most romances lack. The same is true of this one as well. I felt as though I really got the issue this time. Most of the Milan books I understand intellectually, but it seems that the issue may be a bit historic, something that is hard for me as a modern American to really grasp. Not so much this issue. (I am intentionally not telling you what it is, since the summary doesn't say.) My heart ached for Rose's dilemma. That said, in a novella of this length the issue kind of overshadowed the romance itself. I'd have liked to see more how they came to fall in love.

Like her other novels, the conversation hits it out of the park. This one is very mathematical. Rose is a math genius with a real passion for astronomy. I have no idea if Milan's facts are correct (I can't imagine they'd be wrong) but it's really fascinating to see how they developed a study of astronomy in that time period. Also, I really want to try out a slide rule now.

Stephen is possibly my favorite Milan hero. He KNOWS he's a modern day star. He's willing to play that persona when the situation warrants it, and Milan somehow manages to both play him straight AND poke fun at famous people. (Think Old Spice Man commercials.) Stephen is the first to be open about how he feels and he's somewhat hurt when Rose doesn't understand what he really means. Despite this, he comes to her aid when she needs it, even after she's walked away from him. I love love love that a man with Stephen's past (which you really have to read The Suffragette Scandal to see) is able to become what he is.

If anything, I'm mostly disappointed that we didn't get to see any of the characters from the other novels and I wish this had been a full length book.

Talk Sweetly to Me is on Amazon for $.99.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It's In His Kiss by Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor #492)

Ok, not really #492, but it has to be close! I absolutely LOVED this one. Lucky Harbor is nice and consistent for me, but not usually knock my socks off. But this one? I wanted to turn around and read it twice.

Here's the summary:
ONE KISS CAN LAST FOREVERBecca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now's her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam's eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile.

Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can't resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca's heart?

I don't know who writes these blurbs, but that entire second paragraph is only slightly vaguely sorta what the book is about. Investment genius? I think this comes up once. Maybe twice? It's not even a minor plot point. Self-made man? I suppose, if by this you mean "happily owns a business with his friends." He's successful but not filthy rich or anything. Glamorous life in the city? Huh? Her life is the city is never described as such. So anyway, all that aside...

Becca is smart and determined. She's had some bad things happen in her past due to inept parents and her clueless brother, and she's finally just done with all of it. She packs her things and moves away for a fresh start. She rents an apartment sight unseen and ends up across the alley from the charter boat company owned by Sam and his two best friends (hey! Guess who the next two books are about??) Becca is willing to take whatever job she can so that she can just stay put. She's has a musical background, but performing in front of people is right out. She's trying to write jingles but keeps getting the bum assignments (diapers, feminine products, etc.)  She's not at all afraid of putting herself out there, while at the same time is fairly emotionally subdued. She just doesn't have any experience with anyone loving her in an open, honest way. She's always been the caretaker, and not by choice.

Sam is the definition of alpha hero. He's big and sexy and instinctively protective. He had a difficult childhood, in and out of foster homes until he lands in Lucky Harbor as a teen. His deadbeat dad is trying to turn things around, and is suddenly present in Sam's life as well. Sam's passion is boat building, and while I've seen this done better in other series,  I liked that he did something creative to soften him a bit.

Sam and Becca fall into a casual relationship very quickly. The attraction between them is very hot and intense and the sexual tension is well done. This is actually one of the hotter Lucky Harbor books I've read (I think. I've been told they are all a bit hot, but I don't remember them being like this one!) I loved the honesty about their attraction, and the way they resist it when Becca ultimately comes to work for Sam. (Ok, Sam resists it. Becca outright says she wants to continue what they have started.) The romance itself is really well done here, and I could feel them falling in love.

Add this to the great banter between Sam, Tanner and Cole, and reappearances by other Lucky Harbor characters, and I truly loved this book. You don't have to worry about remembering the other characters, the only one who really has a role in the book is Lucille (of course), but it's nice to see some of them at the edge of the story. I happened to have the next one waiting on my Kindle when I finished this one, and I happily dove into it. I love it when favorite series really delivers.

Its in His Kiss will be published on August 26th.

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