Rockin' the Rooster

"The Sky is Falling!"

This is a Lady

...but we still have snow in NH!

Spring Jacket Fling

Pinkmint

Heather Offord Clutches

AUTISM SPEAKS - YOU need to listen!

Just What the Doctor Ordered!

Two reviews in one today, ladies and gentlemen! Felicity Young is a historical mystery writer I discovered last year and have been delighted to follow since. The third book in her Dr. Dody McCleland series was recently released, so here's to celebrating success, good reading, and lady doctors with a nose for trouble...

What is better than a work of historical fiction in which the history is well-researched and powerfully presented? .... Nothing, I tell you! Young's first mystery novel about Dr. Dorothy McCleland and Chief Inspector Matthew Pike is a gem.

Dody is not an entirely original leading lady as far as personality and moral fiber goes, but Young has managed to present her as a heroine we can both enjoy hearing from and admire. Her quick mind and capable demeanor give us the strength we like to see from female sleuths in historical mysteries during time periods of male supremacy. She offers a surprise, though, in that while she stands for women's rights, she is not subject to the fervor of her fellow suffragettes (her sister for example). While the story revolves around an incident involving women's suffrage, it is not driven by any sort of personal vendetta on Dody's part. Her concern is establishing herself as a doctor and keeping her more demonstratively-minded sister out of prison. It is only because of an accident of circumstance that she becomes involved in the case of a suspiciously dead suffragette at all. Dody's an interesting woman in a time when history generally cataloged women as either radical protestors or "properly-minded" housewives. Her intelligence and levelheadedness makes her an ideal partner for the emotionally scarred, traditionalist Chief Inspector Pike. Each works to open the others eyes on issues important to them and they eventually develop a rapport which serves to allow them to put their heads together and work out the tangle of clues.

The history behind this story is a volatile topic and leads to some tense moments. I would warn those considering picking this book up for reading that there are a few scenes which may be considered disturbing. Due to Dody's career as a doctor of forensic science it shouldn't be much of a surprise that she performs autopsies, however, some of the description might be considered mildly to moderately graphic by some. In addition, there is a scene in which forced feeding is described - a political response to incarcerated suffragettes who went on hunger strike. Nothing in this book really crosses any lines as far as I'm concerned, but it is not for the faint-hearted. The inclusion of these activities and historical details add both accuracy and power.

Although it has the occasional editorial mishap as far as word order or grammar goes, the writing is fluid - eloquent when needed and at all times coherent. Young has successfully drawn me into Dody and Pike's story and I look forward to continuing the series. Bravo!


~~~


With Anatomy of Death Young proved that she could compose a well-researched and utterly absorbing historical suspense novel that holds the promise of a series worth reading. This, her second in the Dr. Dody McCleland series, has affirmed that the promise of this author's first success is more than capable of carrying itself through. Antidote to Murder continues with the realistic tone of its predecessor and draws us into the social mores of Edwardian London once more. Again, a serious aspect of the time period is brought forth for examination: the difficult - and sometimes impossible - choice of women who faced an unwanted pregnancy, families that became too expensively large, and the life-threatening options available to the desperate.

Dody's career and life are both at stake as a botched illegal abortion outrages society and anonymous letters point the incriminating finger at her. An easy and vulnerable target, Dody refuses to throw in the towel and allow a murderer to get away with this bloody business ... especially as more unwanted pregnancies lead young women to unwittingly seek his assistance. As the body count rises so does the tension as our leading lady struggles to prove her innocence to the unforgiving and unbelieving masculine superiors to whom she has been working to prove her capability in the "beastly science." Simultaneously, the dashing Chief Inspector Pike works to uncover a German spy operating under the cover of a risque theater troupe. (We all get to appreciate the cameo appearance of none other than the infamous historical figure of Mata Hari ... though the makings of her fame do not actually take place in this book, but later on in history) While Dody and Pike begin the story fighting their separate battles the clues eventually lead them together once more, finding a common foe in the one leaving the bodies of reluctant mothers-to-be behind.

Once again, Young has delved into the murkier waters of this particular period of English history and spun us a fascinating tale. The main characters continue to be presented as strong and realistic individuals living in a time of great change, and the supporting cast (particularly the wonderful Florence!) are a treat. The blossoming relationship between Dody and Pike is well crafted and sweet. I can't wait to see what Young pulls out of the hat next. Bravo!

~~~

 MAKE SURE TO CATCH SCENT OF MURDER, AVAILABLE NOW!

THE Look YOUR Look!

Blush and Taupe Tailoring

Possible Upcoming Events

I received the "Call for Entries" for the NH Creative Club's juried exhibition. The opening reception for the exhibition will be at Brady Sullivan Properties at 670 N. Commercial St., Ste. 303, Manchester NH on Tuesday, June 17th. That's the night the awards will be given out and there will be refreshments and hobnobbing to be done. Not the night for photos of artwork, really. So I will check up on the follow-on schedule at that location and at other local venues for a good time to photograph the exhibition. Then I will plan on sharing that with y'all.

I live in southern NH, so close to the MA border that it makes no never mind. So, if I occasionally slip down to Boston to see an exhibit at the MFA or the Science Museum, those of you in Beantown will forgive me, won't you? While NH isn't the fashion center of the northeast, it is a great place to live or visit! I'll bring you some of those things!

The Second Act (AQG Show)

Here's the second part of the quilt show. I can't really call it the second half as I discovered I have a lot more photos than I thought!

So, we start today with ZEN by Lisa Courtemanche. The photo doesn't show it, I'm sorry, but it is aptly named. The simple pattern and smoothing palette of greens and blues has a rather calming effect on you.


And next we have Sunflowers for Sarah (no relation) by Beth Ditkoff. The yellow in this quilt is nice and sunny, so it's a very happy sort of quilt!


Cape Cod by Paula Warren. I remember reading that this is a combination of log cabin and another old block. I think it is inspired by sea glass. If not, it should have been. When you walk by this quilt, the greens and blues sparkle and sort of shimmer like light on glass. It's lovely.


Understory by Alice Mullen and then Seaturtle HI by Alice as well. The first quilt's title is taken from the underneath fabric.



Heidi Vallee's quilt Dad's Puzzles. Each of these black and white blocks is a crossword puzzle all worked!


And the only quilt we chose by a man, Our Lives Together by Dennis Duggan. This Bargello quilt signifies the twists and turns his family's lives take together.


Another by Heidi Vallee, Scrappy Braid, which had a beautiful stained glass look to it!


Auld Lang Syne Times Four by Pat Grandmaison. The twisting of the black fabric around the aqua made Sarah think of Zentangles!


Delectable Dogsleds by Diane Tkacz. The detail across each section is a dogsled. You can see it best in the top dark blue section.


From Joy To Jim by Donna McDowell. A lovely traditional appliqué pattern.


Polar Diamonds by Suzanne Russell. This pattern seems to have been done as a group project or challenge of some sort. There were many quilts done in it.


Pink and Brown Civil War Quilt by Peg Bunker. Peg is my next-door neighbor and I didn't know she was a member of this group!


Star Quilt by Lisa North. I love just about anything that looks like a rainbow! These stars on white were irresistible!


Aboriginal Circles by Lynette McCreary. Some lovely "down under" fabrics mixed with solids done in a pattern that I have typically seen done in Japanese fabrics.


Sunset Retreats by Donna Martel. Sarah caught sight of this just as we were leaving and liked the colors and fabrics in it.


Which brings me to a rather spectacular quilt, Dear Jane by Elaine Anthony. This quilt is 76" x 76". It is completely hand pieced and hand appliqued. It has 829 blocks in it and is a reproduction of a quilt Jane Stickle made in 1863. With all that hand piecing and hand appliqué, the quilt is machine quilted.



Well, that's the end of my photo show of the 13th Biennial Quilt Show by the Amoskeag Quilters Guild. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as I enjoyed the real show!





Amoskeag Quilters Guild Show

haven't been to a quilt show in a couple of years, at least since I stopped quilting. So when my daughter, Sarah, announced there was one in Manchester over the weekend, I got directions and cleared my calendar. I dragged her along, too! My iPhone doesn't photograph well, so I had her take the photos with her Galaxy.

The Amoskeag Quilters Guild puts on a show every two years. This year the theme was Seasons. There were quite a few quilts with the seasons theme, but there were a whole lot of others quilts as well. In most shows you see old block patterns and new block patterns, old style fabrics and new fabrics, and a few crazies. This show was no exception. There were a lot of machine pieced quilts. There were a plethora of machine quilted quilts, some done by the piecer and a lot by professional machine quilters. I found out that at least one of the professional quilters belongs to the group, so having the quilts done professionally isn't as unusual as it might seem. Having been a hand quilter, it was disappointing, though. To me, there's nothing quite like a well-quilted hand quilted quilt.

There was a raffle quilt to benefit the youth at Webster House in Manchester, NH. This quilt was hanging on the wall on display to encourage people to buy raffle tickets. I was so, so tempted! It was absolutely gorgeous! An overused word, I know, but it applies in this case. It was a king sized traditional double wedding ring quilt on a soft yellow background. If I had a use for it, I would have invested in raffle tickets.

There were quite a few vendors in attendance at the show. Too bad I'm not an active quilter anymore. They had some really pretty things!

So, below are some of the quilts that caught my eye. First is one of the quilts by Danielle Fiery, Sunrise Stars. Danielle was one of Sarah's high school teachers and a reading buddy. They have stayed in touch all through college and beyond, and that's how she even knew about the quilt show!


Next is American Hero by Claire Morris. She made this quilt for her husband, who is a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Thank you for your service, Mr. Morris!


And then Bright and Happy by Cindy Lacroix. An old, traditional pattern with bright, modern fabrics to change it's look!

 

And next is Two of Us TQS BOM 2013 by Denis Lareau. Another traditional pattern with some very new and bright fabrics!


This next quilt is called Wedding Quilt for E and Tanya by Raven Gregg. It's made of modern fabrics in harmonizing tones that create a very pretty quilt. This is a very large quilt as well as very pretty, measuring 115" x 115" (king). I'd say E and Tanya are very lucky! The photo only shows about half of the quilt. Some of the fabrics (lavenders) have a glitter aspect, which really adds to the tone of the quilt. Both Sarah and I were quite taken with this quilt!


Another quite remarkable quilt was The Bear by Donna McDowell. Not so very large at only 60" x 60", but packed with fun details that I wish I could show you if I had the room! Pieced and appliqued, it is a purchased pattern, but meticulously done! The bear is in the lower left corner and a bit difficult to see here. But he's not alone by any means! Take a look all around this quilt!




Well, I think I'll save the rest of my quilt pictures for tomorrow. Come on back and I'll show you another half dozen or so of the best of the show, in my opinion!

Judi

















Keeper of the Secrets

Autism Speaks, Listen

Leopard with Khaki & Denim

Navy Stripes & Khaki

Shelter

Of Kings, Confessions & Murder

This series just gets better and better! What Angels Fear was a masterful introduction to the best sleuth of contemporary fiction. While something always felt odd about Sebastian's relationship with Kat, the way they worked together was engrossing, and those first few books were the perfect blend of dark malevolence, twisty intrigue and high-flying action. What followed were those in-between books where Kat steps out of center stage and Hero wanders part-way into the picture. They developed his character and demonstrated the depth and strength of personality required to endure the revelations and machinations thrown into a life nowhere near as simple as was once believed. Finally, we have the current phase of Sebastian's career as a noble sleuth, where he has finally convinced Hero to marry him and they are beginning to hesitantly form a formidable partnership. Why Kings Confess is the end of a tensely drawn-out plot line from which new developments and characters weave themselves into the growing saga.

Our favorite detective is matched up against a rumor which was a legend from the moment it was first whispered. When Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette mounted the guillotine and Marie-Therese was held under lock and key, did the little Dauphin endure a long, abusive death ... or was he liberated from his prison cell and spirited away in secret? When one of history's most tantalizing pieces of gossip is revitalized, Sebastian must dig into the innuendos, idle fantasies, and outright lies of revolutionaries, political magnates bent on destroying Napoleon's reign, and the scattered remnants of the French royal family. Could the Dauphin have survived only to face violence and death in the rookeries of London long decades after the Reign of Terror? What stakes have been raised when not only is a man found dead, but desecrated with a hole in his chest where his heart should have been?

The Mystery...
Not original, but entirely Harris! The rumors surrounding the little Dauphin and his possible escape from captivity create a fertile source of inspiration for authors to mine. I'm not very surprised to see it crop up in a Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, but to me it meant there was just that much more at stake. Whereas many other authors take historical curiosities and blow them all out of proportion, creating tall tales and taking all the bite out of the historical in their fiction, Harris has proven time and again that she does not go in for cheap tricks and easy melodrama to progress her stories. She tries to allow what facts there are to speak for themselves and create the background to her stories for her, rather than molding the history to fit the story. As before, she has paid a respectfully eloquent tribute to the historical record in this case. It's easy to take the bygone gossips at their word and say the Lost Dauphin escaped and survived, but not so easy to create a credible epilogue to his tale. I think Harris made a wise choice by presenting a believable scenario, but ultimately left it up to her audience to judge for ourselves.

The Characters...
If there is one aspect of this addition to the series that falls somewhat short it is in the characterization. There aren't really any major development points with anybody ... (view spoiler) There is one out-standing psychological breakthrough for Sebastian dealing with a traumatic altercation during his service, thus leading him to sell his commission and shoulder a moral burden that haunts him to this day. Through Hero the oppression on his spirit is dealt with to a certain extent, though Sebastian isn't the sort of man who would ever release his own conscience from perceived responsibility. That's who he is, though, and his personal demons are one of the reasons he is such an engaging personality. Still no news on his mother, his true paternity, the rough and tough Mr. Knox, or any of the other long-ranging story arcs, but this was something that had been an outstanding hole in Sebastian's story, and it was satisfying to have it filled in.

The Shifting Balance...
As stated, the series has undergone a major evolution as Sebastian's character, relationships, and role have altered and grown. With that and the change in his personal responsibilities to his wife and the family they oh-so-accidentally started, the overall balance of brain-bending crime-solving and thriller-style action has shifted. Where the earlier books had Sebastian running down back alleys and into abandoned warehouses chasing after gun- or dagger-wielding crooks every few chapters, the emphasis now is more on the intellectual puzzle of the crimes. Oh, don't get me wrong! There is still plenty of derring-do on our dashing hero's part, but it doesn't dominate the pages anymore. Whether this was a deliberate choice on Harris' part or entirely incidental, I think it reflects the re-balancing of his life that has come with marriage to Hero and coming fatherhood.

Hero, Love & A Baby...
FINALLY!!! Finally, in so many ways! First and foremost, Sebastian finally manages to bring himself to say the words he has kept inside, but have been so plain until now. Does that count as a spoiler? Deal with it! And, of course, we have the other FINALLY moment: Hero finally gets to have the baby she has been pregnant with for five books. It may be nine months either way, but that's a high page-count pregnancy! I was really starting to feel bad when we got through What Darkness Brings and she still hadn't popped. And, in true Harris fashion, there was nothing easy about it for either Sebastian or Hero. The threat of the loss of the wife he had only recently come to love and their child colored the entire book. The ending was pitch-perfect and so emotionally-charged, ending this chapter of their relationship and opening the way for the next part of the unlikeliest of romances.

It was hard to wait a year for it, but Harris always makes it well worth our patience. Understandably, Hero couldn't play much of a role in the mystery itself in this one -- she was a little preoccupied -- but here's hoping that she'll become the well-matched partner she has shown the promise of being previously. An excellent addition to an addictively wonderful series. Bravo!

Your Choice, in Pink

Henri's latest word on Fashion

Spring Chambray with a topping of Vested Wool

Spring Flowers with a Helping of Denim

Hello, Teddy!