Friday, January 30, 2015

44 Books to Read With a Sewing/Quilting Theme - And A Free Giveaway


Fifty has a lot more solid ring to it, but 44 is the number of books I ended up with for this post. That's because several of the books I read, in all consciousness, I cannot recommend. On the flip side, several books I do recommend can be yours. Sound intriguing?!  Read on, my friends, to find out how to enter our book giveaway. 

What's inspired this mega book review, you might be wondering? Well, lately, I've been reading novels that have a sub-theme of sewing/quilting. And since I like both... sewing and reading, these book themes really resonated with me. So, this past month, I also recruited my book club friends to help me read books with this theme. Some of the reviews below are mine and others are from these trusted friends of mine. I couldn't have done this post without The Literary Ladies - a huge thanks goes out to them!

This post also has a few sponsors, which I will thank right now:  Barbor Books who is the publisher of Wanda E. Brunstetter's books; Marie Bostwick who writes the Cobble Court Quilts series; Molly MacRae, author of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries; and Cate Price, author of Deadly Notions Mysteries. All of these authors are donating a book to give away to my readers. At the bottom of this post, please leave a comment and tell me if you have read any of these books or another book not listed with a sewing/quilting theme.  You have until Monday, February 9th at Midnight MST to enter. I will announce the winners on this post on Tuesday, February 10th at 8 a.m. MST.  Each winner will receive one of these  outstanding books.

Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction:
1.  The Dressmaker of Khair Khana , by Gayle Lemmon
The true story of Kamila from Kabul that is so interesting.  When the Taliban take over, her brothers and father flee their home. Kamila is forced to leave school and now she must find a way to provide for her mother and sisters. She travels alone (a forbidden act) to her oldest sister home where she is taught to sew.  (Reviewed by Linda.) 
2.  Falling To Pieces, by Vannetta Chapman

A city girl is left her Aunt's Quilt Shop that happens to be located in the middle of an Amish community.  Her background has had it's challenges and she arrives at the store in a very low place in her life.  With the help of some stalwart Amish ladies and friends she comes to understand true friendship after she is accused of a murder. This is a fun light murder mystery with great quotes. This book won the 2012 Carol Award for best mystery and the 2012 Southern Magic Best Inspirational Single Title. (Reviewed by Barbara.)
Going Through the Notions Series
3.  Deadly Notions Mysteries, by Cate Price
A fun read that starts with Daisy, the main character, at an auction for more great sewing items for her small shop. As she arrives, her friend, the auctioneer is being taken away charged with killing his friend and fellow auctioneer.  I only wish there wasn't swearing in this novel.
4.  Cobble Court Quilts Seriesby Marie Bostwick
I liked this novel a lot. The characters were an interesting bunch of people living in Too Much, Texas. The women of this family are strong-willed and hard working. One sister sews, the other sister has good taste and was a former beauty queen. They join together to become a strong force in their town.

Be careful reading this novel because you'll get caught up in the lives of the characters and want to continue reading more of the books in this sequel.  
5.  Dyeing Wishesby Molly MacRae

Kath, the owner of a yard and fabric shop, gets put in the middle of discovering murder victims on a Scottish field right before she was going to learn to dye yarn. This is a light mystery with humor. Kath takes over her grandmother's home and store. She also inherited a ghost with this life changing move which makes for an interesting side-kick as she tries to piece together this latest mystery.  A low stress novel.  Read it just for fun.
6.  A Tailor-Made Bride, by Karen Witemeyer

The story takes place in Coventry, Texas when Hannah Richards inherits money and a building to set-up a dressmaking shop from a surprising source. As she enters town, she meets J.T. Tucker who immediately does not take a liking to Hannah.  Hannah does not turn out to be anything like J.T. thought. This is an almost predictable, clean romance with a few twists to keep this novel entertaining and enjoyable.
7.  Sew Deadly, by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

A little murder in the southern town of Sweet Brian has the new librarian under suspicion as the culprit of this crime. This sweet woman knows she didn't do it but not many in this town believe her.  As she works on making the library a special place for the community and especially the children, others come to understand her heart. Luckily she has a group to help her in her transition and learn how to be part of this southern community and that is a sewing circle of friends who also help her solve the "who done it".  
8.  The Half-Stitched Amish Quilt Club (#1), by Wanda E. Brunstetter

This book is a series with a lot of interesting characters like Emma Yoder (loved this kind Amish lady), Paul, Rudy Lee, Stuart, Pam, Jan and Star. I also enjoyed the story line, the patterns in the middle of the book and the recipe for Angle Cream Pie - which I just may be baking one of these days.  I've currently read all three books in this series which means, I enjoy these books a lot.
9.  The Tattered Quilt (#2), by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Light reading and an enjoyable book. It's always humorous to read about the individuals that come together because of the quilting classes given by Emma, the sweetest Amish woman ever!  Great characters with every day problems.  Second book in this series which I really enjoy.

10.  The Healing Quilt (#3), by Wanda E. Brunstetter
While living in Florida for the winter, Emma teaches a series of quilting classes.  In these classes, the reader meets many lives that need to be healed. This kind Amish woman, sharing her talent of quilting, teaches them not only how to quilt but also how to heal and deal with their challenges. This is the third book in this series.  I love this series of books because of the characters and Emma's belief in God and not being afraid to share her beliefs.
Elm Creek Quilters Series, by Jennifer Chiaverini:
The author states that these books do not necessarily have to be read in the order they were written, but the later ones will give away some events if not read in order.

11.  The Quilter's Apprenticeby Jennifer Chiaverin


Jennifer Chiaverin is a fantastic story teller.  In The Quilter's Apprentice, you'll learn all about Elm Creek Manor and the people that built this mansion and the women, Mrs. Compson, who owns it.  You'll also learn about a young women, Sarah, who has moved to a new town with her husband, Matthew, and is trying to find the right job for her.  Sit back, relax and enjoy a good read.
12.  The Giving Quiltby Jennifer Chiaverin

I love the detailed descriptions of the women in this book and the quilts these women worked on during a retreat centered around making quilts for the Linus Project (The Linus Project is a real charity which donates quilts to children.  For more details about this organization go HERE). I wish there was a real group called the Elm Creek Quilters that offer retreats like this because I would join them!
13.  The Wedding Quiltby Jennifer Chiaverin
This novel was the first one I read from the Elm Creek Quilters series obviously, it's they are a well written series that keeps me coming back for more. The title sounded interesting and the book was just that. I enjoyed the story and the history about the quilts and about Elm Creek Manor.
14.  The Seamstress a Memoir of Survival, by Sara Tuvel Bernstein

Well written historical fiction set during World War II about an acclaimed Jewish seamstress and her struggles to stay alive. This novel is very captivating and one of the best reads ever! If you want to listen to this book, Audible.com has a great version using a reader that sounds like she has an Hungarian accent.  (Reviewed by Meridee)
15.  A Fall of Marigolds, by Susan Meissner
This book starts with a marigold floral scarf that travels 100 years forward from 1911 to 2011.  A tale of two women from two different time periods who are trying to survive the tragedies they witnessed in New York City, (the Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan and the fall of the Twin Towers on 9-11). A must read. (Reviewed by Liz)
16.  The Wedding Dress, by Carrie Young

A collection of short stories about people that lived on the Dakota Plains during the Dust Bowl. One of the stories tells about a beautiful wedding dress sewn for her special day and worn by many of these study women and the kindness of the women that sewed and shared it with so many. Loved all but one of these short stories.
17.  Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, by Jennifer Chiaverin
This is a historical fiction about a black woman who bought her freedom before the Civil War and was working in Washington, DC as a dressmaker. She was very good and had many clients. When Lincoln won the presidency and they moved to Washington, she became Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker exclusively. This book was based on the actual woman, Elizabeth Keckley, who wrote about her experiences at the White House. I loved this book because it had some interesting insights into the Lincoln family. I also learned more about the war and what went on in Washington and with the black people. It was a great book! (Reviewed by Rosemary)
Stitches in Time Sewing and Baking Series by Dee-ann Black
18.  The Tea Shop Cakes, Ice Cream and Afternoon Tea 
This light romance is a breath of fresh ocean air.  The story takes place in a seaside town in Scotland.  Jayne is earning her living renting cottages for summer businesses.  She rents a cute cottage for a tea shop to a handsome pastry chef and meets a tailor. Love is in the air for Jayne. 
19.  The Dressmaker, by Kate Alcott

Tess, an aspiring dressmaker and designer, is hired by a designer to come to America.  She boards the Titanic with this woman and four days later is on the last life boat to leave this doomed ocean liner.  The designer commandeers the boat and then refuses to let anyone else board. When returning to the United States they are tried for murder.  This a recommended read especially for Titanic lovers.  (Reviewed by Shauna)
20.  The Persian Pickle Club, by Sandra Dallas
I read this book for book club back in 2004.  The story takes place during the 1930's, during hard times and the depression.  A group of women join together to sew/quilt and improve themselves.  It was a fun read, a mystery with interesting characters. 
21.  The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
This historical fiction is such an interesting read. The story begins with Thankful, a slave, who is given to Sarah Grimké, the middle daughter of a wealthy and prominent family at the pinnacle of Charleston’s social hierarchy, on her eleventh birthday. Thankful's mother is the household seamstress and teaches Thankful this same skill.  
22.  The Sewing Circle:  One Woman's Mentoring Shapes Lives in Four Stories of Loveby Andrea Boseshaar, Pamela Boeshaar, Pamela Kaye Tracy, Cathy Marie Hake, & Sally Laity 
Four enjoyable, light romance stories written by four different authors. These clean romance stories come together in one novel. The stories center around four young women who belong to a weekly sewing circle lead by the pastor's wife in Hickory Corners, Ohio at the end of the 19th century.
23. Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty  a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, by Elizabeth Keckley

This autobiography is an excellent look at slavery and an incredible women who learned to sew and with ingenuity, earned enough money from her skill to set herself and her son free.  She has an interesting perspective about Abraham Lincoln as she sews dresses for Mrs. Lincoln during her husband's service as President.  She was also considered one of Mrs. Lincoln's only true friends.  My husband loves history and so I passed the book along to him.  He also thought it was an interesting read.
24.  Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing, by Kathy Cano-Murillo

Scarlet has always loved to sew, thanks to her grandmother.  She wants to be a fashion designer even though she has two engineering degrees. Unfortunately, her fashion designing job doesn't make enough money for her to make a good living so she puts together a school to teach others her sewing methods and meets some interesting people along the way.  Does hard work and desire pay off for Scarlet?  Read this book and find out. Sewing friends, at the end of the book, there are instructions on how to make your own dress form out of ever day items. What do you think of that?  
25.  The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard, Erin McGraw
An interesting historical fiction based on the author's grandmother. It's 1900 and when Nell is 15 years old, she gets married and has two children by the time she's 17 years old. When the youngest is still very tiny, Nell leaves her family. Justifications, actions, lies, hard work, family relationships are all issues that make this book an interesting read. This historical fiction would be a good one for a book club to read because I'd love to have an honest discussion with others about this novel without spoiling anything for those who have not read it.

26.  When we were Strangers, by Paula Schoenewaldt
A historical fiction about Irma from Opi, Italy who is very poor and plain.  Luckily, she is a talented seamstress who has courage and determination.  Different events that happen to her change the paths she chooses to take with her life.  One of the things that bothered me was waiting until chapter 14 to find out what actual year this story takes place.  From events described, I could guess but not until three-fourths of the way through the book was that guess confirmed.  There were other parts of this story that I personally didn't like but the story was compelling and I enjoyed reading this.
27.  The Forgotten Seamstress, by Liz Trenow
A beautiful sewn quilt with unique fabrics and delicate embroidery leads to two stories of discovery that blend into one complete and complex tale. Two British women, Maria and Caroline, each have a story to tell. These stories kept me reading late into the evening as I discovered the story of Maria, the forgotten seamstress. This book would also be a good book club read.
Children's Books:

28.  Coat of Many Colors, by Dolly Parton / Judith Sutton
This book is based off of Dolly Parton's song with the same name. You can listen to the song HERE.  This book is very similar to The Rag Coat, by Lauren Mills (see review #40).  Her mother uses scraps of rags donated by a neighbor. She sews together the rags and makes a coat like the Bible story of Joseph's coat of many colors. When the children make fun of her, she doesn't care because she feels rich in her mother's love. (Reviewed by Shauna)
29.   Brave Irene, by William Steig

Irene's mother, a seamstress, is sick so she cannot possibly deliver the gown she has made for the Duchess to wear that night for the ball.  So, Irene bravely sets out in a snowstorm to battle the fierce wind and deliver the box which contains this gown.  Find out what happens as she tries to deliver this beautiful gown.  Fun illustrations earning this book the 1986 New York Times Review best illustrated book of the year. This is a favorite book. (Reviewed by Shauna)
30.  A Book For Black-Eyed Susan, by Judy Young

Award winning book and part of a series called "Tales of Young Americans" about 10 year old Cora and her trials as her family crosses the plains on their way to Oregon. Using her mother's sewing box, Cora creates images of this journey out of fabric and thread.
31.  The Brave Little Seamstress, by Mary Pope Osborne
This story is an adaptation from the Brothers Grimm of "The Brave Little Tailor".  I liked this rendition and love the brilliance of the Little Seamstress as she approaches challenges.
32.  Anna May's Cloak, by Christiane Cicioli
I love how one gift sewn for Anna May from a grandmother is saved and cherished and becomes so many other sewn and cherished gifts for generations. The author's repetitive use of descriptive words add wonderful rhythm to this story. Learn what tiny gift can be made from scraps of fabric.
33.  Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz Age Cinderella, by Shirley Hughes 

Shirley Hughes is one of my personal favorite British children's authors and illustrators. "Ella's Big Chance" is set during the roaring twenties. This is a cute, fun child's book about Ella, her friend Buttons the delivery boy, and her father, a dress maker. She loves to help her father in his dress shop but when her father remarries, that Cinderella twist comes into play. I especially love Shirley Hughes illustrations.  In 2003, this book won the Kate Greenaway metal.
34.   The Rag Coat, by Lauren Mills 

I love, love, love this book! It's a sweet, sad story about Minna who lives in the Appalachian area and needs a coat to go to school.  Her father works in the mines.  Her hopes of going to school are dashed when her father dies.  This book will leave you with a warm feeling of love.  It can also teach children the importance of being kind to others. Besides writing this book, Lauren Mills also created all the beautiful illustrations for this book.
 35.    Betsy Buttons, by Erla Young
After Liza Jane immigrated to America, she was lonely for her playmate and playthings she had to leave behind.  Her Mother sees this problem, asks Liza Jane to bring her sewing basket so she can create a surprise.  This is a sweet, true pioneer story written by Liza Jane's great granddaughter.  I remember having this story on my bookshelf as a child, but I don't remember reading it until my sister purchased a copy and sent it to me when my children were little. The illustrations are in sepia tones, giving this book a vintage feel.
 36.   Something From Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman               

Listen to this sweet children's novel HERE.  This book provides a good lesson for children illustrating a grandfather's refashioning skills. This Jewish folktale is about a favorite coat that gets "repurposed" until there's nothing left but a story. "I like best  the illustrations in Something from Nothing because of the darling little mouse family  living under the floorboards that decorate their home with all the clippings that fall through the cracks." (Reviewed by Susan)
37.  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback

This book was the 2000 Caldecott Metal winner. It's the same Jewish folktale as "Something From Nothing" yet this book actually has holes throughout the book.  (Reviewed by Susan)

38. The Wedding Dress Mess, by Beatrice Masini, 

Filomena who was the finest seamstress in all of Italy.  She could sew anything but her specialty was making wedding gowns. When it came time to make her gown, she put all her talent into her dress but things didn't go as she had planned.  I especially enjoyed Anna Laura Cantone's illustrations in this children's book.  She created a fun collage of whimsical art using papier-mâché and discarded materials. 
39.  The Quiltmaker's Gift, by Jeff Brumbeau
A beautifully illustrated book about the victory of selflessness over greed and the power of generosity in transforming people’s hearts and truly finding happiness. You'll love this story of a king who wants something that he cannot buy.  This book is a good read aloud book for older children.  Play eye spy with your children as you look at these rich and colorful illustrations. (Reviewed by Janine)
40.  The Quiltmaker's Journey, by Jeff Brumbeau

This book is a prequel to The Quiltmaker's Gift.  Learn how a very wealthy girl learns about the "real" world where poverty abounds and being generous truly is a gift in this fairy tale style book for older children.  This book is wonderfully illustrated with bright colors and a lot of fun details.
41.  The Purple Coat, by Amy Hest

Gabrielle's grandpa is a tailor and it's time for Gabby to visit him so she can get her yearly navy blue coat. This year is different because Gabby wants a purple coat.  Her grandpa teaches her that "once in a while, it's good to try something new" but will her mother be happy with what Gabby and her Grandpa come up with?
42.  Tillie the Terrible Swede:  How One Woman, a Sewing Needle, and a Bicycle Changed History, by Sue Stauffacher

This is a short biography about Tillie who was nick named, "The Terrible Swede" because of her abilities to ride and race a bicycle. She was also a seamstress who designed her own biking outfit which was a scandalous thing since women in her day did not ride bikes. Learn her story in this fun children's book.(Reviewed by Ruth.)
43.   Sew Zoey series, Ready to Wear, by Chloe Taylor
This is book one of a sweet series for young readers.  Zoey is a very likable 7th grade girl who dares to design and sew her own clothes. She also blogs about her designs at Sew Zoey.  I liked the upbeat attitude this spunky and daring girl has.  
44.  The Flag Maker, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

From a family of flag makers, this non-fiction book tells the story through the eyes of thirteen year old Caroline. Caroline and her Mother, Mary Pickersgill, along with the help of cousins and others, sewed the flag that flew over Fort McHenry after the British battle of Baltimore and inspired Francis Scott Keys song, "The Star-Spangled Banner."  The author was so inspired by this flag which she saw on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC that she wrote this book.  This is such an interesting book. (Reviewed by Ruth)
I have 4 PRIZES to give away to 4 lucky winners - leave a  comment below and let me know which of the following books you'd like to receive:

1)  GOING THROUGH THE NOTIONS, by Cate Price  If the winner has already read it, they can choose #2 or #3 in the series instead.  To purchase Cate Price's books, see this LINK.

2)  The Half-Stitched Amish Quilt Club, by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  This book was donated by her publisher Barbour Publishing.

3)  Between Heaven and Texas , by Marie Bostwick author of the Cobble Court Quilts Series.  This book was donated by the author.  You can learn more about Marie Bostwick's books HERE.

4) The winner can choose between the four titles in the Haunted Yarn Shop series by Molly MacRae:  "Last Wool and Testament"; "Dyeing Wishes"; "Spinning in Her Grave"; "Plagued by Quilt".  You can purchase her books HERE.

DEADLINE:  Leave a comment by Monday, February 9th, Midnight MST for your chance to win one of these books.  USA, DPO or APO shipping addresses only.

Enjoy this list and please feel free to share it with your friends!  xoxo Grandma

February 10, UPDATE:
Here are the four winnersif your name is on this list, please e-mail me an address to ship your free book to within the next 24 hours so I can have the authors/publishers send you your free book.  
  1. Elizabeth Obih-Frank 
  2. Iryna Boehland
  3. Linda Steaples
  4. Jeanie Dannheim
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