Blog Tour: Tied to Deceit by Neena A. Brar

On a drizzly August morning, the inhabitants of the hill town of Sanover, Himachal Pradesh, wake up to the shockingnews of the murder of the exquisite, secretive, malicious, and thoroughly immoral Devika Singh.

As Superintendent of Police Vishwanath Sharma begins to sift through the hidden secrets of Devika Singh’s life, it becomes evident that everyone who knew her seems to have a clear-cut motive for killing her.

Faced with the investigation of a crime that appears to have as many suspects as there are motives, Vishwanath Sharma probes the sinister web spun around a tangle of lies and deception.


The Making of a Bookshelf Quilt: Initial Designs

I’m starting to get really excited about this project. My tendency is to focus on the minute details and get overwhelmed, so I’m trying not to do that. But at the same time I don’t plan on making more than one of these so I want it done right the first time.

First I started listing the books I want to include. The hardest part of that isn’t coming up with titles but paring them down to a reasonable amount. I’ve already cut out 30 or so of my initial selections. I’m down to around 50 titles. Some are series that I plan on just embroidering the name of first book in the series. I’m doing that bit by hand so I can’t be doing it for 50+ book titles. I’d never finish. My pared down list includes:

  • The Harry Potter series (no brainer)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
  • The Outlander series
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Stand
  • Inkheart
  • Jurassic Park
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • And tons more…

After I made the list, I began looking up the books to get a feel for colors and sizes.

I decided to go with this box set of ASOIAF because it’s gorgeous and because I can keep it simpler by embroidering the series title on the box rather than each book. This is what I came up with:

My colors are off, but it’ll give me a rough idea while planning.

For Harry Potter, I’m going with paperbacks because the spines are relatively plain. I’d love to do the castle spined box set, but I can’t do it justice, so simple is my goal.

I’m hoping I can find a Harlequin type print, but if not I’ll look for good color matches. My plan is instead of titles doing the years at the top. I’ll know what it means, which is good enough. I may change my mind, but that’s the plan for now.

Again the colors aren’t perfect, but my main goal here is to get the sizes planned out. I’m using 1/2″ for each grid square. I’m not sure I got the width to height ratio just right, but I’ll play around with it.

This is a guide for the full shelf. In this one each square = 2″. The shelves are all 12″ tall and 60″ wide. Harry and ASOIAF will go on the second shelf along with generic books. I wanted to add a TARDIS to this shelf, but getting the dimensions right within a height of 12″ would be a struggle. I decided to table that idea for now at least.

So I’m going to keep working on figuring the colors of the books and how I want to label them. I’m also going to check out some hand embroidery books to see if I can find some good techniques for lettering.

One snag I hit already was the Outlander series. I LOVE these books and definitely want to include them. And it’s not that individually they are ugly. But all together they clash something awful. An Echo in the Bone is going to stick out like mad. I’m still looking, but so far I haven’t found the set in more pleasing colors.

So that is where I am at the moment. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

The Making of a Bookshelf Quilt: Planning Stage

Reading is my number one hobby, but a close second would have to be sewing. Specifically quilting. I’ve been making quilts for close to 25 years now. I started (doing everything by hand – I was terrified of sewing machines) when I was a teenager (don’t you dare start doing the math on that!), and I spent nearly 15 years doing it as a job. My mom opened a quilt shop when my oldest child (now 20) was still crawling. I loved that shop. My husband’s job moved us across the country about 14 years ago, but I still quilted for her and professionally for others, published patterns and books, and spent most of my time if not working on quilts, thinking about them. Everything I owned was covered in little threads.

My mom closed her shop about 5 years ago, and my professional quilting life pretty much ended then as well. Then 4 years ago I found out I was pregnant with our little monkey and I haven’t sewn a stitch since then. Mostly it’s been a time issue, but I also think I got burnt out.

A quilt I made for my oldest child about 7 years ago. It’s one of the ones I’m most fond of.

Lately I’ve been itching to get back at my sewing machine (I’m no longer afraid of them). This time, though, I want to make a Bookshelf Quilt. Have you seen these? They’re spectacular. There are many different varieties, and I have debated about what sort to attempt.

The one above is gorgeous, no question. But I’m not sure the very well matching colors really represent my actual shelves. They don’t have to, I suppose, but I think I want something that’s more personal.

I have lots of thoughts about this one. It’s lovely, and I could see doing this one for Monkey’s room using bright prints that represent his favorite things (mostly dump trucks and cheese). But I think I want more of a shelf look.

This one is definitely tempting. I love Harry Potter more than is probably healthy. And I do think he needs to be represented on my shelves. But I want other stuff on there, too.

This is another that is seriously pretty. I love how she uses the selvage (the edge of the fabric that usually displays the fabric name and manufacturer along with color codes) as titles. But after looking at all of these, I think I’ve decided I want titles of my favorite books on my shelves. So, my plan is something similar to this shelf, BUT I am going to embroider the titles of my favorite books on the spines. I bought a graph paper notebook today, and I’ve gathered my colored pencils, and now that I’ve done the thinking / deciding stage stage, I’m ready to start the designing stage. This part is a fairly long (but fun) process. I’ll have to also gather fabrics (another fun part), and get all my supplies in order.

I plan to document all the stages here. If you’ve ever done anything like this and have suggestions or thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Blog Tour: Arcacia – The Witch, the Warlock, and the Children of the Sorceress Queen

When a beautiful sorceress-queen, Selina, spurns Setanor, a powerful, jealous northern warlock, an invasion of Western Arcacia begins. To save her newborn triplets from death, they are cast down a magical river to the New World, a place called, ‘London, England.’

Thirteen years later in a cold, Victorian London attic… The future of Sophie, an impoverished orphan looks bleak but everything changes, to her astonishment after a young witch arrives through her bedroom window with an incredible message and a warning. So begins her life in a beautiful, enchanted ancient world…

How do Sophie and her four friends summon the tremendous courage to rescue her long lost family while restoring Arcacia from dark, ruling forces? Mystical beasts, sceptres, powerful witches and daemon-trolls are just some of their challenges. Meanwhile, the dreaded terrifying warlock, Setanor and his witch-consort Lilith have sent a secret enemy to plan their downfall…


Author Connections:

Favorites on Friday: The Letter B

These Friday Faves are brought to you by the letter B.

Favorite Book:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This book shocked me by just how much I loved it. It’s like I was listening to the story being told by a good friend. I don’t know what it is about Moriarty, but her style is perfect. Loved the story, loved the characters, and loved the fact that you knew what was going to happen from the beginning but still had no clue what was going to happen til the end. It was brilliant. I enjoyed the show as well, but maybe not quite as much.

Favorite Author:

Bill Bryson

Bryson is a phenomenal story-teller. He always manages to walk the perfect line between being informative and laugh out loud funny.

Favorite Character:

Bilbo Baggins

Who doesn’t love this charming little hobbit? He may need some coaxing to get him going, but he’s definitely someone I’d want on my team if I ever needed to go on a dangerous quest. Plus, maybe he’d let me crash in his fabulous hobbit hole.

Favorite Movie or T.V. Show:

Big Bang Theory

Though I’ve been a little disappointed in the show the past season or So, it still remains one of my favorites. I love the entire cast, and I’ll be sad when it goes off the air (I have a feeling it’s not far off).

So, what are your “B” favorites?

Wanderlust on Wednesday

I am plagued with a strong desire to travel. It’s something I was born with, and I have never grown out of it. Unfortunately, my life situation has prevented me from traveling much outside my little town for the past five or six years, and it isn’t something that will be changing in the near future. So, I have become an armchair traveler. If I can’t venture out myself, I will live vicariously through those who have the ability. Travel memoirs are some of my favorite books. These are just a few of the ones I love and recommend:

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakesand to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.

Bill Bryson is a perfect blend of entertaining and informative, and A Walk in the Woods exemplifies this. If you’ve ever wanted to hike The Appalachian Trail, this book is a must before you journey forth. And if you’ve never wanted to hike The Appalachian Trail, you may just find it inspires you to buy a backpack and set off on an adventure. It certainly had me thinking about buying a tent and some good walking boots…for about 4 minutes. Then I remembered how much I like air conditioning and dislike dirt and bugs and snakes and bears…

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

While this one didn’t leave me itching to lace up some hiking boots, I did find Strayed’s story fascinating and at times inspiring. If anything, it made me appreciate the beauty of the PCT and the fact that I really have no business going anywhere near it. Another good one to experience from the comfort of my sofa.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

The wide world is calling.

Americans Tsh and Kyle met and married in Kosovo. They lived as expats for most of a decade. They’ve been back in the States—now with three kids under ten—for four years, and while home is nice, they are filled with wanderlust and long to answer the call.

Why not? The kids are all old enough to carry their own backpacks but still young enough to be uprooted, so a trip—a nine-months-long trip—is planned.

At Home in the World follows their journey from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. They traverse bumpy roads, stand in awe before a waterfall that feels like the edge of the earth, and chase each other through three-foot-wide passageways in Venice. And all the while Tsh grapples with the concept of home, as she learns what it means to be lost—yet at home—in the world.

I can’t even begin to imagine taking three littles on an international adventure like the Oxenreider’s. Honestly, just the planning of such a trip for a couple of adults seems rather daunting. So I really admire what they accomplish with this trip. I also appreciate the fact that they seem like such respectful and conscientious travelers. They embrace the cultures they encounter, which is the whole point of traveling, right?

My Life in France by Julia Child

Although she would later singlehandedly create a new approach to American cuisine with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, Julia Child was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story—struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took the Childs across the globe—unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia’s success as a chef and a writer, brilliantly capturing one of America’s most endearing personalities.

So, this one is not strictly speaking a travel memoir exactly. But it’s close, and it’s honestly just a delightful little book. I may never get to visit the places she speaks about (and if I do, they’ll likely be vastly different by now), but I feel as if I have been there already. And better yet, I have been there with Julia by my side. If you haven’t read this one, you should. It’s utterly charming. Just like Julia.

Favorites on Friday (The Letter A)

I saw a meme on Litsy that asked about your favorite things, but you had to start every answer with a specific letter. I’ve decided to do a weekly post in a similar fashion. I hope you’ll play along and tell me your favorites as well.

Favorite Book:

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

I read this one in high school (in A.P. Government), and it has remained a favorite ever since. It’s one of those books I would never have thought I would even like, much less love, but it ended up blowing me away with its greatness. I lost my copy years ago in a cross-country move, and I’m thinking it’s time to replace it and give it a reread.

Favorite Author:

Ann Brashares

I was tempted to go with Jane Austen for this one, but I’m currently reading the pictured book, and it’s reminding me how much I enjoy this series and author. Maybe I’ll pick Jane when I get to J. 😊

Favorite Character:

Arya Stark

This is true for both the book and the show. Arya is a fantastic and complex character, and there is so much I admire about her.

Favorite Movie (or Show):

Adventures in Babysitting (the original)

Ok, I’m going to date myself a bit here, but when I was a kid, this was one of my most favorite movies. We had it on VHS, and I wore it out. I loved, loved, LOVED this movie and wanted to be Elizabeth Shue so badly. Mostly I wanted the hair…

So, tell me your favorites (remember answers have to start with the letter A). Bonus points if you can get more embarrassing than Elizabeth Shue’s hair envy!