Monday 9 February 2015

{Blog Tour} Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines (Love, Lies and Lemon Pies #2) by Katy Cannon

21797284Posted by Donna
Release Date: February 2nd, 2015
Finished Date: January 2nd, 2015
Publishers: Stripes Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Grace: This was supposed to be Grace’s starring year, until she opened the door to a family secret that changed everything. Now she’s stuck making costumes in Sewing Club and watching someone else play the lead role – unless she can find a way to win it back.

Connor: Far from home and exiled to a new school, all Connor wants is to keep a low profile and get through the year. But agreeing to help his step-dad out with the school play means he’s soon caught up in Grace’s schemes.

Grace had a plan for this year – and it didn’t involve learning to sew. But being out of the spotlight isn’t the disaster she imagined, even if Connor is convinced she’s still a diva extraordinaire. Can Grace prove she’s really changed and save the play from the sidelines, even though her family is coming apart at the seams?

The Review: Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines is a cute and fun read with a sweet romance that all readers will root for. 

This year Grace was supposed to be given the lead in the school’s new play, Much Ado about Nothing but when a family issue leaves her missing the auditions, Grace is stuck running the costume department for the play instead. Determined to get her role back, Grace knows it’s only a matter of time before the play director realises she’s the best person for the job, so in the meantime, Grace focuses on making the costumes. But what Grace didn’t count on is how much she enjoys making them and more so, it gives her time to spend with the new guy and stage manager Connor. But Grace and Connor didn’t have the best start and now it appears Connor hates her. With her family issues, the play and now Connor, this year just went from bad to worse. Can Grace turn her year around and show people she’s serious about making the play a success? 

Going into this book, I certainly had high hopes because of how much I loved Katy Cannon’s Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and I just couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with next and revisit some of my favourite characters. Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines is great follow up and although it could be read as a standalone, I’d recommend you read Love, Lies and Lemon Pies first because you can familiarise yourself with the characters. Not only that it has that added extra touch of some sewing patterns at the start of each chapter. I didn't quite connect to the sewing aspect as much as I would have liked - not as much as baking - but it was still interesting to read. 

For me, Grace’s continued growth as a character just shows how much of a great character she is and that’s something you don’t want to miss. She’s come a long way since Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and she’s really turned herself around. No longer is it all about her. She’s happy helping others and going about things the right way. Yes, she’s still very determined to reach the goals she wants but she soon realises that there is always good things from anything you do. And Connor was an interesting character as the love interest. You can see there is something between Grace and him from the moment they met but, it’s all tangled up with their own personal issues that it takes a while for either to realise they like the other. I liked Connor. I couldn’t always agree with his reasoning’s for some things but like Grace, he’s learning new things every day. 

The plot of the story was enjoyable. It had so good laugh out loud moments but it also had it’s harder times with the serious topics the characters had to deal with. And it was interesting to see Katy Cannon focus the story around sewing instead of baking. 

In all, I didn’t quite enjoy Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines as much as Love, Lies and Lemon Pies but it’s still full of friendship, romance, and of course drama and it’s a read that many will enjoy. 

3.5 flowers!

Thank you to Stripes Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

How To Sew A Story

In lots of ways (okay, some ways) writing a book is a lot like making a patchwork quilt. Sort of.

Bear with me here.

Choose your pattern.
The first thing you need to do when making a patchwork quilt is to choose your pattern. This will tell you how many patches you need, out of how many fabrics and what shapes they need to be. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you’re making a simple patchwork with 56 squares in 7 different fabrics. Okay?

Now, for a story, you can also start with your pattern. What genre is your story – sci fi, contemporary, fantasy, historical, romance… what’s it about? And who is your audience – young adult, middle grade, picture book? Knowing these things will give you some idea of how long and complicated your book will be.

Say you decide you want to write a YA novel, around 60,000 words, with a few subplots and several supporting characters.

Choose your fabrics.
You already know you need 7 different fabrics from your pattern, but choosing them is the fun part. Do you want them to all be shades of the same colour, or complementary colour groups – or vivid, bright clashing colours? It’s entirely up to you.

It’s the same with your story. Imagine your 56 squares are each pieces of your story – scenes even. Each different fabric represents a different story strand – perhaps your main character and plot get your favourite pattern, and you have more squares of that fabric than any other. Your second favourite might go to the love interest and romance story thread, the third the best friend and their subplot, and so on until you have all seven fabrics cut into the right number of squares.

Lay out your squares.
Now it’s time to lay your squares of fabric out into the order you want them to appear on your blanket – you decide you want a good mix, so that it looks random, but actually is very carefully planned to ensure that no two squares next to each other are the same, and that the fabrics you have fewer squares of are spread evenly throughout the quilt. (It’s harder than it sounds.)

And so it goes with your story. You want your main plot squares, or scenes, to span the whole book, with the subplots and supporting characters slipped in between, adding extra depth and meaning to the story. (Of course, in a book, one scene can cover several plot threads, but let’s not complicate things too much…) Basically, you want to weave all your plots and characters together into a logical order, making sure that the action and emotion rises and falls, and that the different plots are spread out through the story.

Stitch your squares together.
Once you’re happy with your layout, it’s time to stitch the squares together, one row at a time, then to join all the rows together to form the quilt top.

Or, in other words, it’s time to write the book – one scene, one chapter at a time, until you have a finished draft.

This is also harder than it sounds.
Choose your stuffing and backing and sew the layers together.
But a finished quilt top isn’t a finished quilt, and a finished first draft isn’t a finished book.

For the quilt, you need to choose your wadding or stuffing and a backing fabric, to make it deeper, softer and cosier. You lay them out, right sides of the quilt top and backing fabric facing, with the wadding on top, then sew all the way around the edges, leaving a gap on one end. At this point, it looks rather like a disaster.

For your book, you need to revise it, also to make it deeper – and more meaningful and better written. You tear the whole thing apart before putting it back together again. This also looks disastrous.

Turn the right way out and overstitch.
But then you turn your quilt the right way out, stitch up the gap, and realise you actually made a quilt. A beautiful quilt. You add the finishing touches – overstitching along all the joins to give it more texture – and you’re done!

Hopefully, when you turn your book the right way out again – or come back to it after a short break – it’s beautiful too. Like with your quilt, you go through touching it up – fixing an awkward phrase, adding a better description, that sort of thing. And finally, it’s done. Hooray!

Give away, or curl up under on a cold night.
Patchwork quilts make beautiful gifts – as do books. But whether you keep your quilt and book for yourself to enjoy, or whether you give them away – sending them out into the wide world of publishing for instance – the important thing is that you made it, all by yourself. And nobody else in the world has one like it.


Katy Cannon was born in the United Arab Emirates, grew up in North Wales and now lives in Hertfordshire, which is rather flat and green by comparison.

She recently discovered that her great grandmother, Louisa, was one of the first women in India to earn her degree, back in 1916, which makes Katy’s own reading-in-the-bath method of getting an English Literature degree from Lancaster University in the 21st century a little less impressive.

It didn’t take her long to realise that writing stories was much more fun than analysing ones that other people had written. It also meant that she could write the sort of stories she actually loved to read, rather than the ones she was supposed to want to read.

Katy has an unending passion for castles and the seaside, which means she spends a lot of holidays dragging her husband, small daughter and Teddy around the country to look at crumbling piles of rocks, or going paddling (but she does always buy them fish and chips afterwards).

Katy loves animals, and grew up with a cat, lots of fish and a variety of gerbils, and her daughter has recently decided she wants to be a vet. Katy is hoping that the publication of her series, Pooch Palace coming from Stripes Publishing in March 2014, will finally convince her husband to let her get a dog!

Katy is represented by Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency.

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