Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by Plume Publishing to do a book review of a quilting mystery novel that was being released this October.  I jumped at the chance to read a book that had quilting in it!  Who wouldn't?

Now, I know you are thinking I am going to give it a good review because I got a free book and that is what is expected of me.  My friends would laugh at that.   If it was bad I would just contact the publisher and tell them what I thought and not do the review.   In this case, my opinion of 'The Devil's Puzzle' was this:   TOTALLY FANTASTIC!

The first paragraph got me.   Clare O'Donohue has a sense of people and insight into them that she shares throughout the novel.  It just makes you really think.   The novel has quilting in it.  The author talks about quilting in such a personal way and sees an overall view that we as quilters, don't step back and take a look at.   The mystery is good.   I did not know until I was told, who committed the murder.
Here is the synopsis of the book:

Witchcraft in a small New England town typically harkens Salem, Massachusetts.  However, amateur sleuth Nell Fitzgerald finds the upcoming anniversary of Archers Rest, New York drawing out the town’s own dark history of witchcraft, as well as that of its residents in THE DEVIL’S PUZZLE.  Nell is thrilled when her grandmother Eleanor’s boyfriend plans a double surprise—restoring the rose garden of her old Victorian house, and a marriage proposal.   However, Oliver’s plans are put on hold when a skeleton is unearthed in Eleanor’s backyard.  Police Chief Jesse Dewalt launches an investigation, and for once, Nell vows to stay out of his way, instead focusing on organizing a historic quilt show as part of the town’s upcoming anniversary festivities.  When clues lead to questions about Eleanor’s past, Nell is forced to uncover the truth.  As the anniversary approaches, a chilling wave of vandalism strikes town hot spots, raising fears that witchcraft has returned, and revealing secrets that could change life in Archer’s Rest forever.    




I was so intrigued by Ms. O'Donohue that I asked the publisher if I could do a Q&A with her, and she consented.  

Your book starts right off being insightful of people in general and continues throughout the book. Where did you develop this instinct about people?

I suppose like all writers, I watch people a lot. I try not to be judgemental, and not bring my own biases into things, but just observe. People reveal a lot of themselves and as long as you stay neutral, listen and watch, you can learn a lot.

You have a real handle on art quilters vs traditional quilters and explain it in a refreshing complimentary way to both parties, please tell us about this?
I’m a big fan of both traditional pieces and art pieces. They both lean on a long history of using cloth for creative expression, and both are a way for the maker to showcase skills, ideas, and talents. I don’t really understand why there is a divide, but I’ve seen it. I think we all learn from each other.

I guess I should have started with this one. Do you quilt ? If so for how long and what type of quilting do you enjoy?
I’ve been quilting for about 15 years, maybe longer. I generally make traditional quilts. I love the log cabin, which is both very traditional and very modern, depending on the fabrics you choose. I’m hand piecing a grandmother’s flower garden at the moment. It’s been a while since I’ve hand-pieced, and I find it’s very relaxing. Though I generally piece quilts and sometimes machine applique, I’m doing more hand appliqué as well. Once in a while I’ll do an “art” quilt – but I’m usually following the pattern or influence of someone like Ricky Tims or Velda Newman.

Do you belong to a guild?
I don’t, though I’d certainly like to. I travel quite a lot for my day job as a TV producer, and I’m pretty active in the mystery writing community, so there’s not a lot of spare time. These days I mainly quilt on Sundays, and take my hand piecing with me on the road. But perhaps when (if) things quiet down, I’ll join a guild.

Are all your books mysteries?
Yes, so far. I really like writing mysteries because I think a dead body on the floor gives an immediacy to the events. You can’t talk about it tomorrow. You have to deal with it now. That sets things in motion. Plus, I think it’s always interesting to put characters into a crisis and see how they handle it.

My favourite line in the whole book is this, “You can hide who you are from much of the world, but when you quilt, I realized, your personality finds its way into the finished product.” How did you come to believe this?
That’s true, isn’t it? I think when you quilt you forget yourself, you focus on the work and in doing that, you are also focusing on what’s most interesting to you, what matters. So if you see tiny, even stitches, you can bet that person cares about precision. And not just when she quilts. If you see bold, bright choices, it’s likely a quilt made by someone who isn’t afraid of standing out from the crowd. I don’t tend to make the same quilt twice, because I really like to keep challenging myself. And my quilts have lots of little mistakes in them, which is a clear indication that I’m not a perfectionist.

What made you want to become a writer and why quilt mysteries?
I’ve always written. As a little kid I changed the endings to fairy tales to suit me, as a teenager I wrote short stories and a novella. After college, I began working as a newspaper reporter and later a columnist, in a small weekly paper in Illinois. Then I started working in TV, writing and producing documentaries and other programs. So I’ve always written. When I decided to try writing a novel, I suppose I took that old advice and wrote about what I knew, which was quilting. My other mystery series, The Kate Conway Mysteries, focuses on TV producing because that’s something else I know about. 

The Someday Quilts series includes The Lover’s Knot, A Drunkard’s Path, The Double Cross and The Devil’s Puzzle (Oct. 2011), and her Kate Conway series recently made its debut with Missing Persons.  O’Donohue lives in Chicago, ILVisit her website at clareodonohue.com and the Someday Quilts fan page on Facebook.




When I googled Devil's Puzzle quilt block, I found that it is a variation of the Drunkard's Path Block and could look like this:
Now I am lucky enough to give away this book to one lucky follower.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me you follow and I will pick a winner  next Monday October 31st.  

42 comments:

Lynn said...

I love a good mystery! I'm a follower.

Robbie said...

I follow your blog!

Sharon said...

Hi Jackie yes I am a follower and thank you for the interview with the author. She seems to be a very interesting person. And I love to read so please add me to your pot.

Jennyroo said...

I'm a follower. Would love to win, thanks for the chance! I'm always up for a good book.

My Sweet Prairie said...

I follow you. I think you are crazy... but that's why I follow you. (haha!)

~Monika

Missy said...

I'm a follower and love her books!!

Gene Black said...

First - I am NOT entering. I have already enjoyed this book.

Thanks for a delightful q&a session.

I also googled the "Devil's Puzzle" pattern and found the drunkard's path version. But the cover of the book has a hint at the real quilt pattern that is meant. you can see a variation on it here
http://www.quilterscache.com/D/DevilsPuzzleVariationBlock.html

Gene Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Sounds like a good book and I am a follower.

sew.darn.quilt said...

I'm a mysteryholic and a quilt fanatic.
I happily follow you and would love a fantastic read this fall!

Thank you for the chance
Carolyn

stephmabry said...

Someday I'm going to have to really sit down and work on paper piecing (and my scant 1/4" seam!) to do complicated blocks like those!

I'm a follower - thanks for the chance to win :)

Janet said...

I'm a follower. Would love to read this book.

pcflamingo said...

I am a follower! Thank you for the interview. If I don't win the book, I'm definitely going to buy it. I have a great interest in the Salem witchcraft hysteria of 1692 and like reading about the subject in general.

Pat V. said...

Oh, yes, I am a follower (and my here my parents always thought I'd be a leader!) I've read the first three Someday Quilts mysteries, and can't wait for this one!

Sunnybec said...

Oh I love a good read, not sure if you would post to France but having a go just in case. I am a follower. Linda

Dana Gaffney said...

I like the interview you did, especially your question about your favorite line from the book. I do believe it's true. I've made quilts that my husband says, now that's you, the ones he doesn't say that about are the ones I followed a pattern for. I like the idea. I follow your blog.

Rolanda said...

I'm a follower and I do love to read. And I do not like to curve piece so this particular block would not be on my list of to-dos..lol. Great photo of the launch of Delighted...

Diane H said...

Great interview. Always happy to find a new author. Thanks and I follow.

Linda said...

What an interesting person. Good Q&A.
I would love this book. Thnaks JAckie.

Peg said...

Oooh, I love Clare O'Donohue. Would love this book! Thanks for the chance - and I am a follower!

annmarie said...

I am a faithful follower of your blog. I've read the first 2 Nell books & have the third on order so it would be GREAT to win the fourth! Great books - thanks for the chance.

Judi said...

Well you certainly picked the perfect day to draw for a mystery novel! Sounds like a great book! Oh, and yes, I follow you :)

James-Linda said...

LOVE FOLLOWING YOUR BLOG!

Sallie said...

I'm a follower. I've read the other 3 books in the series, and would love to win this one. Thanks!

Jen said...

I'm a follower! Thanks for the great interview, knowing some background always makes the book look more interesting!

sandra said...

Hi Jackie I am a follower of you for awhile . I love any book about quilting and also mysteries and this looks like a good book. Sandra

Miss McD said...

I follow!
And I'm with you, Rolanda. Curved piecing isn't something you need to fuss with when there's fusible web out there!

Snoodles said...

What fun! You know that I follow you...I have read one of hers, called the Lovers' Knot -- it was super! I'd love to read another. Thanks for the interview with the author; I enjoyed reading that. I think she has quite a lot of quilting knowledge, and that makes her stories so very real.

Cecilia said...

I love mysteries! I am a follower.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I'm a follower and love to win. Myra

Carol said...

I'm a follower and I love a good mystery!

Deb said...

I'm a follower! Thanks

Wendy said...

I am a quilter and a reader so please count me in! I am a follower now too!

Willa said...

Loved your column on juried shows!

I enjoy mysteries.......and quilts ......and read as much as I can.

Did not see where in Canada you are.. I shall go back and see if it is there. I have spent many happy weeks in your country.

Linda H said...

Yay!! I love to read AND I'm a follower! Count me in!!

Martha said...

Jackie, I just discovered your blog and yes, will definitely be a follower now. I wrote a blog post entitled "Never Be Surprised at Judges' Comments" earlier this month. We don't get juror's comments, but the judges in a non-juried show can seem to be from another planet! Great writing. I will be hunting for O'Donohue's books.
Martha Ginn

Jennifer Gail said...

Me follows you. I would love to win this book:)

Diane said...

I'm a follower! A friend just told me last night I have to read this book - she loved it!! Thanks for the chance.

LynDee said...

The best of all possible world's: quilting and a good mystery. Add a trip by train and I'll be in HEAVEN!

Shawna said...

I'm a follower and I love a good mystery. Thanks for the giveaway.

missmoozie(at)gmail(dot)com

Jodi said...

I have not yet read this author's books but I'm looking forward to it. I'm already one of your followers.

Thanks for the giveaway and a chance to win.

usairdoll(at)gmail(dot)com

Mama Pea said...

That is really neat. You're probably all done with this giveaway, but that's cool. I just wanted to say how cool of you to interview this author. You asked great questions and I enjoyed the interview a lot!