Review/US Giveaway: Improper Cross-Stitch by Haley Pierson-Cox

Improper Cross-Stitch by Haley Pierson-Cox

August 7, 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Crafts & Hobbies

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

A fun, witty, nerdy, and irreverent craft book for the modern cross-stitcher.

Sometimes it’s good to be a little…improper. Profane, funny, and smart, Haley Pierson-Cox’s IMPROPER CROSS-STITCH invites the modern crafter to bring personality and humor to their cross stitch projects. From a fully designed “Damn it feels good to be a crafter” to the beautiful Art Deco inspired “f***,” Haley’s patterns are fresh, lively and just what the crafter ordered.

In this book, she’ll introduce readers to the joys of stitching the naughty, the profane, the irreverent, and the just plain awesome. First, she starts with a basic lesson in cross-stitch technique, no previous experience required. Then, once readers know your way around an embroidery hoop and a skein of floss, the books moves on to the designs—35 in total, ranging from hip, to nerdy, to ironically domestic—where Haley encourages crafters to embrace their inner snark with gleeful abandon.

Her easy to follow instructions and colorful designs can make a cross stitcher out of anyone. In all her years of crafting, Haley’s learned many things, but this simple fact remains one of the most important: There is absolutely nothing in this world quite so satisfying as enshrining something deeply inappropriate within the delicate stitches of a cross-stitch sampler. It’s truly one of life’s great delights! (publisher)

My take:  This isn’t the type of book I usually feature but I used to do a lot of cross-stitch so I was interested when the publisher offered a copy. Until my eyes changed and needed a stronger prescription along with bifocals I always had a work in progress.

Pierson-Cox gives the reader, beginner stitcher or one who needs a refresher, a clear and easy look at cross-stitch tools, floss, fabric, and general basics. There’s certainly enough info for anyone to head to the craft store and get started on a project.

Pattern themes include:

  • Hipster Snark
  • Ironically Domestic
  • Talk Nerdy To Me
  • Alphabets

There’s even instructions on how to create your own pattern. So, although I wouldn’t spend my time stitching the F word, there are several patterns that appealed to me. If you’re a cross-stitcher or someone who wants to try the craft this book would be a fun place to start.


About the author:

Haley Pierson-Cox is a designer and craft writer with a focus on fabric and fiber crafts, including sewing, needlework, knitting, crochet, and geek crafts. Her hobbies include organizing things, speaking to her cat as though he’s a person, and mining the pages of old books for antique expletive. Check out her blog, Red-Handed Scissors!


US Giveaway

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The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

The Subway Girls: A Novel by Susie Orman Schnall

Review book courtesy of St. Martin’s Griffin

Description:  In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition. (publisher)

My take:  The Subway Girls is a warm-hearted novel about two women from different generations. In 1949 Charlotte has a dream of graduating college and breaking into the world of advertising. When she tries out for a Miss Subways competition she hopes it will be a stepping stone to fulfilling her dream. In 2018 Olivia works for a small advertising firm and hopes her pitch will win a much-needed account for the struggling company. Both women are faced with challenges that sadly span between the two eras. I enjoyed learning how their decisions mapped their future and how they eventually came to meet. The Subway Girls gave me the feeling I get when watching a movie from the 40s and 50s. They’re always entertaining, fairly wholesome and leave me happy to have spent my time watching (or in this case, reading).


Praise for The Subway Girls:

“Schnall has written a book that is smart and timely…Feels perfect for fans of Beatriz Williams and Liza Klaussmann.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, acclaimed author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“A fast-paced, clever novel filled with romantic possibilities, high-stakes decisions, and harsh realities. Perfect for fans of Fiona Davis’s The Dollhouse, this engrossing tale highlights the role that ambition, sexism, and true love will forever play in women’s lives.” —Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions

“The perfect addition to your summer reading beach bag.” -Brit + Co

“[A] clever idea and relatable protagonists…a fun read.” -Booklist


 

About the author:

Susie Orman Schnall grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, and Glamour. She is also the author of the award-winning novels On Grace and The Balance Project. Susie has spoken extensively on work-life balance and is the founder of The Balance Project interview series. She lives in Purchase, NY with her husband and their three sons.

For more information please visit www.susieschnall.com

Instagram: @SusieOrmanSchnall
Facebook: SusieOrmanSchnall
Twitter: @SusieSchnall


 

The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely

The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely

St. Martin’s Griffin; July 10, 2018

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:  April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on Craigslist since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family’s summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the Craigslist ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL.

Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau–the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.

But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love? (publisher)

My take:  Remember the Rom-Com movies of the 1990s/2000s? That’s what this novel reminded me of. There are attractive characters in their late 20s, fun repartee, and enough drama and comedy to move the plot at a good pace. There’s also great chemistry between the main characters which made me hope for a happily-ever-after. Who am I kidding? Books in this genre are nothing if not predictable – and I enjoyed it all. There are a few sexy scenes and some language that would earn an R rating if it was a film. The Real Deal is the first book by Lauren Blakely I’ve read. If the rest of her books are this much fun I would definitely read more.


Advance Praise:

“I loved everything about these characters, from their sparkling banter to their electric attraction. Witty, clever, and swoony.” — Amy E. Reichert, New York Times bestselling author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

“A hilarious, hot slow burn. The Real Deal is full of witty banter and characters you’ll fall head over heels in love with.” — Helena Hunting, New York Times bestselling author of Shacking Up


About the author:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller lists more than eighty times, and she’s sold more than 2 million books. She enjoys comedies, cake and good company.


California Summer by Anita Hughes

California Summer by Anita Hughes

St. Martin’s Griffin; June 19, 2018

Review copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Griffin

Description:  Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend’s invitation to spend the summer at her parents’ estate in Montecito. It’s far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate shop, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love…again. (publisher)

My take:  If you enjoy a sexy, contemporary romance with a beautiful setting you’ll want to read California Summer. Anita Hughes’ new novel is filled with gorgeous people who live interesting lives that are all in various states of emotional upheaval. Rosie begins to find her passion in life after living in the shadow of another person’s dream for years. She also starts to listen to her inner voice and a select few others who have wisdom to pass on to her. Filled with various characters, some more sympathetic than others (who are downright easy to loathe), the story is a nighttime soap lover’s catnip. Toss this one into the beach bag this summer. You’ll be glad you did!


About the author:
ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, White Sand, Blue Sea, Emerald Coast, and Christmas in London. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information about Anita and her books, visit anitahughesbooks.com


Praise for Anita Hughes:
“Hughes crafts another fast-paced beach read for those who crave new beginnings that lead to happy endings.” –Booklist

“Anita Hughes is a master at sweeping the reader away to an exotic location! In CALIFORNIA SUMMER, Hughes takes us behind the gates to the manicured lawns, exquisite gardens, and mansions of Hollywood royalty to experience a second chance at a career and love. The perfect beach read!” –Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion

“A tender and triumphant look at what happens when life falls apart and you are left to rediscover the world through an entirely different lens than the one you imagined: new friends, new passions, new roads. Anita Hughes crafts a winning heroine you absolutely root for, and CALIFORNIA SUMMER made my heart sing.” –Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author

“Hughes’ uplifting tour of past love and future endeavors, set in a dreamy getaway of excitement and self-discovery, makes for an ideal, quick beach read.” –Booklist on Emerald Coast

“How OOC could a family drama that’s set in sandy St. Barts get? Very.” –Cosmopolitan on White Sand, Blue Sea


 

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell

  • Title:  Dreaming in Chocolate
  • Author:  Susan Bishop Crispell
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Magical Realism
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  February 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate café Penelope Dalton runs alongside her mother, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest request: get a dad. And not just any dad. Ella has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her biological father who’s back in town for a few months – and as charming as ever.

Noah broke Penelope’s heart years ago, but now part of her wonders if she made the right decision to keep the truth of their daughter from him. The other, more practical part, is determined to protect Ella from the same heartbreak. Now Penelope must give in to her fate or face a future of regrets.

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell is a heartwarming story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl’s wish for her mother.  (publisher)

My take:  This was a sweet story about Ella, a little girl who has good reason to cross things off her list of things to do. One of those items is to meet her dad, someone she’s never met. Her mother never revealed his identity so there’s no one else for Ella to ask. When her friend’s uncle comes to town to help his family Ella takes an immediate liking to him. Ella sees possibilities. Could her mother as well?

Dreaming in Chocolate is a story of love, hope and the possibility of second chances. The magical part is very light and, even though I’m a fan of that sub-genre, I was okay with that. It’s the second book I’ve read by Susan Bishop Crispell and I look forward to seeing what she writes next.


Praise for Dreaming in Chocolate:

A Redbook.com most anticipated book of 2018

“Readers looking for a feel-good story with a little bit of enchantment sprinkled in will eat this one up. A pleasantly sweet tale about true love, fate, and family.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Crispell’s (The Secret Ingredients of Wishes, 2016) sweet tale offers a nice mix of magic and romance … the characters are likable, and the family’s attempts to make Ella’s last days happy are touching and uplifting – Booklist.com


 

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

  • Title:  Just Between Us
  • Author:  Rebecca Drake
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  January 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime in Just Between Us, a heart-stopping novel of suspense by Rebecca Drake.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.  (publisher)

My take:  This thriller had a rather slow start for me as the relationships between four friends, moms of young school-age kids, were established. About halfway in it took off like a rocket and didn’t slow down until the last couple of pages. I kind of liked that pace for this type of novel.

I could relate to the friendship that linked the women who wouldn’t know each other if their kids didn’t attend the same school. Happily, that’s pretty much where any similarity to me ended.

You may think you know a person who you see often. We all make assumptions from what we witness in our interactions – but are those assumptions the truth? These friends will find out as life changes abruptly when they act on assumptions. Since it’s a mystery/thriller I won’t go into specifics. If you enjoy domestic thrillers I think you should read Just Between Friends.


About the Author

Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.

Author photo credit:  Joseph Mertz

Website: https://www.rebeccadrake.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.drake.writer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorRDrake


Praise for JUST BETWEEN US

“A twisty, domestic thriller […] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit […] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers.” —Booklist

“Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won’t be able to put it down.” — J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

“Rebecca Drake’s Just Between Us is a stunner – a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?” — Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King’s Daughter

“Rebecca Drake’s Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don’t miss it!” — David Bell, author of Bring Her Home