It was an interesting month of books. I read fewer books because the last one, Atlas Shrugged, counted for about 5 book on it's own just in length. My biggest disappointments were The Last Palace and Pacific. All of the others were winners. I was so happy to read Atlas Shrugged again, it's one of my favorite books of all time.
What have you been reading? Any good recommedations for the rest of us?
The Last Palace
By Norman Eisen, Narrated By Jeff Goldblum
I was looking forward to reading this book because I know very little about the history of Czechoslovakia. So the first point that needs to be made is that this is not the story of Europe's Turbulence, as the title says. It is barely a history of Czechoslovakia. The premise is that this is the history of Europe told through the history of the inhabitants of this one palace. It is the story of the man who built the palace, the author's family, briefly, the Nazi and then Soviet occupation of the country and of some of the US diplomats who lived in the palace. I felt short-changed on all fronts.
The main bit of information that I took out of it is that a diplomat fell in love with the palace after WWII and through his machinations we, the US taxpayers, are funding the maintenance and upkeep on an obscene 100 room palace to house our diplomats. That part annoys me no end. The author was the diplomat there during the Obama administration and I have it from a very reliable source that he wasn't a particularly good diplomat. But his own opinion of his effectiveness is very different.
As to the narration, it's horrible. Jeff Goldblum reads this novel the way that an adult reads a children's book with exaggerated intonation. It is soooooo annoying! His voices for female characters are ridiculous and almost offensive. I hope he sticks to acting. I had to listen at 1.3 speed to get through it.
I did finish the book but didn't really learn much new except about the man who built the house and how he destroyed his family relationships in the process. That's not a particularly unique story among the super-wealthy and obsessive.
A Steep Price
By Robert Dugoni, Narrated By Emily Sutton-Smith
This is #6 in the Tracey Crosswhite series. Crosswhite is a detective in Seattle. She is asked to consult on the case of a missing young woman. She is estranged from her family because she refuses to have an arranged marriage. Meanwhile, back at the office, it seems her boss has discovered that she's pregnant and has already hired her replacement.
This is an enjoyable series. I like the characters and the story line moves along at a good pace. It's not particularly gruesome with details of murder and torture which probably give it a larger potential audience of mystery readers.
The narrator has been narrating most of the series and I'd be disappointed if that changed. Her voice is Tracey to me.
A Land Remembered
By Patrick D. Smith, Narrated by George Guidall
A beautifully written book that tells the story of Florida before Disney and the Snowbirds discovered it. The story spans 3 generations of the MacIvey family from the first generation of dirt poor homesteaders to the third generation real estate tycoon. The characters are so well developed that you become completely immersed in their lives. It's a great way to learn a little about the fascinating history of Florida.
It's narrated by George Guidell, one of my favorite narrators. He narrates the Longmire and Mitch Rapp series of books and he does a great job with this one too. This is an "old" book that was published in paper in 1984 and in audio in 2011. I'm glad that Audible featured it as one of it's Daily Deals.
By Simon Winchester, Narrated by Simon Winchester
I really enjoyed Winchester's The Men Who United the States and that's what led me to select this one. The challenge, I think, is trying to write a cohesive book with a giant ocean as the binding theme. I don't feel that he really met that challenge.
Pacific is really a collection of stories about different aspect of the Pacific Ocean from the birth and popularity of surfing, the invention of the transistor radio, beating up Australia for their immigration policies, the rise of North Korea and the Chinese takeover of the Asian Pacific. It was far too random for my taste. There are whole books written on some of the topics that would be better. It's really difficult to go from reading about the moving Gidget to China's desires to take over the world.
He also carried his personal political views into the book much more so than in the last book so the geo-political topics weren't presented in any balanced sort of way. It's not a bad book but I expect that there are better books on these topics.
Dark Sacred Night
By Michel Connelly, Narrated by Titus Welliver and Christine Lakin
This is the 21st book in the Harry Bosch series and second in Renee Ballard. In the last book Bosch exposes a pill mill in LA and saves one of he victims. The woman he saves is the mother of Daisy Clayton, a 15 year old girl who was abducted and killed some years before. This book picks up where the last left off with Bosh investigating Daisy's cold case.
He's reviews some old files at LAPS when the night detective, Renee Ballard, starts looking into the case with him.
Connelly is doing a nice job of slowly retiring Bosch while bringing along Ballard. The two characters work well together. That said, it wasn't one of my favorites. Bosch come across as quite lethargic. His wit is gone. Frankly, I'm not convinced that Connelly actually wrote the book. There are lots of little side stories so that, in the end, the Daisy Clayton case is only about half of the book. It was a fine read and I enjoyed it, but it's not vintage Bosch.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Narrated by Scott Brick
I first listened to Atlas Shrugged in 1998 and with the current political climate I felt it was time for a refresher course. This is no frivolous read. It comes in at 62 hours! But it is probably one of the most prescient books ever written that shows what happens when free will is restricted and wealth is demonized. Rand grew up in Russia during the revolution and she saw her father's business confiscated and the family had to escape to Crimea. She came to the US in 1926 and I think this book shows how a socialist revolution would happen in the US....and how it would be fought.
The hero of this book is John Galt. "Who is John Galt?" is the response to ever new policy/restriction/theft executed against society. John Galt sets out to show what would happen if all of the heroes of innovation and industry went on strike. It's part science fiction (she even references fracking and color TVs in a book written in 1957), part love story, part mystery and part philosophical fiction. I loved this book the first time I read it and I loved it more this time.
A note about listening to this book. I downloaded it from Libby (and had to wait MONTHS to get it). It's a huge book and caused a lot of problems with the app. You have to be really patient with this one. It takes the app a long time to get itself set and ready to go. Many times I had to restart the app. Just be patient. The library really needs to break this into 2 separate downloads.
Here's where we left off last week in the chronicle of the mosaic wall.
Since then I filled in the background behind the new beads...
...and added all of these new beads!
Here's where it stands today. Next I'll fill in the white behind the new beads and draw the shapes for the lower third of the wall. I'm very motivated to get this wall section wrapped up.
Fabric of the Week
Sometimes I make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes turn out great. Like this beautiful blue gradient. It was supposed to be Bay of Campeche but something went wrong! I love this one and will try to recreate another like it but I didn't write down what I did so this is truly a one-of-a-kind and I'm moving it right to the Clearance department! You can pick up Bay of Mistakes for 30% off while supplies last.
Georgia Peach is back in stock!
Georgia Peach is one of the newest gradients that has proven to be very popular. If you missed your chance to get some for your collection it's back just for you!
With the remodel on hiatus until the countertops come in, I didn't have any big chores for the weekend so I was able to do some of my own projects...like quilting 2 more veterans quilts. Both of these were made by Betsy, This one is very much her style with red, black and gray reproduction prints.
The Half square triangles in this one are very much a Betsy-style but the batik fabric was a surprise. The mixed taupe shades work so well with it.
The cool think about this quilt is that all of the batik patches came from the same piece of fabric. I quilted both with a taupe thread color and this overall pattern.
I actually used this pantograph but you can see that I really just used the path and did not add the frills. By doing the pattern more simply I quilted I saved a lot of time. So it's OK to simplify a pantograph if you want.
When I trim the quilts I chop up the batting and backing bits and store them in a trash bin until it's full. Well, it was overfull after these 2 quilts and it was time to make some dog beds.
I have decorator fabrics that people have donated to me that I use for the covers and I even use this opportunity to finish off spools of thread.
I use this tutorial to make them.
I also chop up old (but clean) sweats and tshirts and add them to the stuffing mix for these beds.
That big pile of scraps made a small, medium and large bed. One of my friends is on the board of a local rescue agency so I take them to her and she delivers them to the organization. I know that they eventually will end up in the garbage but at least all these things get one more life before they become trash.
But here's something that's going straight in the trash. My friend, Patty, motivated me to finally replace the cover on my ironing table.
Ahhhh, much better.
Its' finally done!
Actually it's been done and on our bed for a week and it's a perfect, warm, winter quilt.
It all started last February at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt show. Anne and I love shopping with Usha at Handloom Batik and we were very excited to find these vintage Indonesian Batiks in her booth last year.
You can read all of the details and see more photos here.
I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one of my goals for the year was to learn more of the features of EQ8. I thought about looking for some online classes but eventually settled on using a book. I know I won't actually retain a lot of the information but hopefully I can remember that something I want to do is possible and I'll have the book as a reference. There are actually 2 of these workbooks and I bought both. The first book has 8 chapters/projects and I got started last night.
I can already tell that this is going to be a great exercise.
In this first lesson I've already learned how to resize an applique on the background. I didn't even have a clue that it was possible to do that!
I learned about framing blocks with Serendipity. I knew about Serendipity but have really only used it to merge blocks. I didn't know that it was a feature to frame blocks like this or to do any of the 5 other things it can do!
The lesson finished off with Auto Borders. I remember using borders some in an earlier version but I think it's much more advanced than what I remember. This Auto Border feature is a rabbit hole that you could sink into for several hours.
It's already worth the $30 that I spent on the book. Next up is creating negative spaces for modern quilts. I think I know how to do this one but I'm sure I'll learn something new.
Having lots of work going on in your kitchen is great motivation to escape to the basement. Today I decided that it was time to finally get back to my beaded mosaic wall.
I have some new beads on the wall. It's so zen to have an audiobook going and spend a few hours just breaking and gluing shards to the wall. I feel certain that doing this lowers your blood pressure while you are doing it because I'm always really relaxed after a session. I suppose that it's a lot like sewing.
Just in case you might be delusional and thinking that I'm almost done this photo should clear that up. Next I will do the white behind these beads and then will finish out this horizontal section and at that point I'll be HALF done. So you will still see lots more of this project but hopefully the updates will come faster.
On the kitchen front I think we are about a day away from being able to partially move back in the space. That means that the messy stuff is about done and we will be in waiting mode for the countertop installation. But we will be able to move back into the space and restock the upper cabinets. I picked up the backsplash tile today and just ordered some sample drawer pulls and cabinet knobs. That will be the last decision and that decision is more about covering the footprint of the current pulls and knobs, than a design decision.
We're sooo close and the first thing I'm going to do when we can use the kitchen fully again is to make some cookies. I really need some cookies.
Fabric of the Week
The Southwest Gradient is the fabric of the week this week! It's 20% off through Sunday. Southwest is a great sky background for art quilts. Debra Miller May used Southwest for the background for her giraffe quilt.
Stars are 1 yard fabrics that are one-of-a-kind. These colors and textures are not reproducible so if you see one that you need get it before it's gone! Tina Saunders used a Stars fabric for the foundation of her wholecloth quilt.
There are 10 new Stars fabrics so check them all out in the shop!
It's good to have friends who actually pay attention to interesting things happening. It's only because of my friend, Mitzi, that I knew anything about Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors. Thanks to her, a group of us were able to go to Atlanta this weekend to see the last day of the exhibit. I had not been to Atlanta in years so it was nice to visit again. Super Bowl preparations were going on everywhere but we spent our time at the museum, SCAD FASH, the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke. It was fun to do touristy things for a change. The Cinematic Couture exhibit at SCAD FASH was excellent and I loved the shark whales and sea lions at the aquarium.
Then it got cold and we came home to even more cold!
I didn't do much stitching on the trip but here are another set of 4 vintage flower blocks that I finished recently.
Here are the blue blossoms all together . It seems like a lot but I"m not even close to being done! I'm hoping for a very productive week. I don't have a lot of outside activities this week and should be able to focus on my projects while the kitchen work continues.
Marcy George loved this original painting by artist Linda Le Kinff. The painting is owned by her cousin. She wanted to pay homage with her own art quilt.
She found that the Navajo Gradient provided all of the colors that she needed aside from the skin and black patches.
For sharing, Marcy received a 20% coupon for the shop that's good for 3 months! If you have made anything with my hand dyed fabric I hope you will consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. The only rule is that projects have to be complete. It doesn't have to be made totally from hand dyed fabric, just include a recognizable amount.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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