As I look back on the month this was a very non-fiction heavy month. In non-fiction I really enjoyed The Eighth Sister and The Perfume Collector. In non-fiction my favorites were Shoe Dog and Chase Darkness With Me. But the most important book that I read was Scam Me If You Can. I highly recommend it to everyone.
I didn't read as much as usual this month but that's because we've been having fun with our visiting friends. They leave next week so I'll have lots of reading time in February.
What ahve you read lately that you would recommend?
By Phil Knight, Read By Norbert Leo Butz
I've been hearing about this book for a couple of years and I'm so glad I finally read it. It's so popular that almost 4 years after publication there's still a waiting list at my library. Simply, it's the story of the idea and building of Nike. What started as an idea in business school to import high quality, affordable running shoes from Japan eventually became the Goliath of sports apparel, Nike.
For those who think that rich people are evil and do not deserve their rewards, this would be a good read. It chronicles the decades of effort, sacrifice and risk that was required to build a successful shoe business. He never had a plan to build Nike as we know it but the perseverance and talent of the team he gathered eventually became Nike.
This is a great book for college business students, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in a good old American success story. It's not just about business. It's actually more about the relationships that are at the heart of this successful business. I couldn't put it down.
Some Choose Darkness
By Charlie Donlea
This is the second book that I've read from Donlea and the 4th he's written. His books aren't really murder mysteries. Instead they are stories that delve into the minds and motivations of murderers. There's always an element of going back and forth in time to perfectly explain a clue that's just been found. I'm not normally a fan of the time switching but he handles it really well.
In this one Rory Moore is a forensic reconstructonist who can masterly reconstruct and solve old murders. She's about to start a new one when her father dies. In clearing out his legal cases she finds one for "The Thief" who was convicted of murdering his wife, Angela, and is suspected in a series of messing women in 1979. He's up for parole and the judge forces her (also a lawyer) to handle the case because it's been delayed so many times. She begins to reconstruct Angela's last days and finds things that she may not want to know. I enjoyed it.
By Amaryllis Fox, Read by the author
I've got really mixed feelings about this book. Fox joined the CIA shortly after college. She was first approached by clandestine services while a student at Oxford but turned that down. She was approached by the CIA while in graduate school in the US. This is her story of her life as a covert field agent in the CIA.
It's very interesting and seems like it could be real but in the epilogue it's made clear that the events and people are all changed. That makes sense because I couldn't see any situation where the CIA would have allowed this book to be published with that kind of detail. I didn't find anything to be too surprising except that life of a covert agent is a lot more interesting in novels.
I expect that she was recruited mostly because she was from a wealthy family, she's VERY smart and has traveled extensively throughout the world. It seemed easy for her to create her backstory because it could have easily been her real life. What the CIA taught her was how to have a few clandestine meetings and evade tracking. It was interesting.
Once again I have to stress this point: AUTHORS SHOULD NOT NARRATE THEIR OWN BOOKS!
Along the Broken Bay
By Flora J Soloman, Read by Sarah Mollo-Christensen
Set in Manila in 1941 when the Japanese invade the Philippines, this is a novel about Gina Thorpe. Gina and her daughter escape to the mountains and she begins helping the Guerrilla fighters. Eventually she moves back to Manila to join an underground army of smugglers.
Meanwhile she awaits word of her husband who is assumed to be in a POW camp.
I love historical fiction but this wasn't one of my favorites. It's not bad, but not great. I felt like the Gina character was often an idiot and wouldn't have survived in the real world of Manila at that time. I also felt that some of the events/actions weren't true to that time. For example, a telegram with full sentences. That never happened because you paid by the word so no one included "a" and "the". Telegrams were more akin to text messages today.
The reader gets great reviews on Audible but I really didn't like her. Her voice is too soft and she should be narrating romance novels instead.
Chase Darkness With Me
Written and read by Billy Jensen
Billy Jensen investigates unsolved murders and has a podcast called The Murder Squad with retired cold case investigator, Paul Holes. I didn't really know what I was getting into with this book. It was a sale book on Audible and I love the ID channel and true crime stories so I gave it a try. It tuned out to be a fun listen.
Billy tells parts of the story of his life to explain how he got into this line of work and then details steps he took in several of the cases that he's worked. Much of the book also covers The Golden State Killer because it was investigated by a friend of his and was the first case solved with genealogy using related DNA.
It turns out that this is also a "how to" book. At the end he gives great advice on how to get into assisting with case investigations. It was a fun read.
The Eighth Sister
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Eduardo Ballerini
This is the in a new series featuring Charles Jenkins, a retired CIA case officer. He now has security consulting business that he and his wife run and it's not doing well. His major client is behind in paying.
His former bureau chief shows up and asks him to travel undercover to Russia to determine why members a cell of long time embedded spies are being murdered. They are called the 7 sisters.
Robert Dugoni has become one of my favorite authors and I'd listen to Eduardo Ballerini read the phone book. This was fast paced and full of action and the scenes are sharp.
Scam Me If You Can
By Frank Abagnale, Read by Jason Culp
Frank Abagnale is one of the greatest scam artists of all time. He was prolific in his late teens and early 20's before he was finally caught and jailed. He was played by Leonardo DiCaprio on the 2002 movie, Catch Me If You Can.
Since his release (he's in his 60's now) he's been working in the security industry helping companies avoid hacking and scams.
Buy this book (it will be better in paper than audio), read it and then pass it on to everyone in your family to read it. It will be the best thing that you do this year. Read it even if you think you are totally scam proof. I read a lot on the topic of personal security and feel like I am pretty well educated in this arena but I learned several new things from this book.
The Perfume Collector
By Kathleen Tessaro
1955, London: Grace Monroe is married and a member of the best social circles. Her life seems idyllic. One evening she receives a letter from Paris that she has received an inheritance only she has no idea who her benefactor, Eva d'Orsay, is.
So begins her journey to Paris to discover the source of this inheritance. Eva's story begins in 1920's New York and is told through 3 perfumes that she inspired.
If you are a fan of Kate Morton, you will enjoy The Perfume Collector.
Written and read by Scott Adams
I've always thought that Dilbert was brilliant. It's clear that Scott Adams is really a philosopher in the way that Dilbert responds to situations that we are all too familiar with. This is his philosophy on critical thinking.
This is a short book (6 hours) but I was able to get it from the library and decided to give it a try. It's a really interesting primer on critical thinking. If you know someone who spends all day in a news bubble they might benefit from this book.
It's a quilting miracle - 2 finishes for January! This quilt has been on the list for a long time. It was started in 2013 with Barbara Brackman's Grandmother's Choice quilt-along. I made 2 sets of blocks. One set was done in shibori and this set was done with symmetry fabrics. After I finished the blocks I realized that I had created quilts for each of my Grandmother's. The shibori one would have been the favorite of my maternal grandmother and this one would have been absolutely loved by my paternal grandmother. It's been waiting since about 2016 to be quilted. I recently realized that this quilt belonged to one of my cousins and that's what finally motivated me to finish it.
I'm so happy to have this quilt done and to know that it's going to the right home. Go over to the Gallery to see lots more photos.
Here's the problem with me and veterans quilts. I will ALWAYS quilt vets quilts before I quilt my own. They are fast and easy and they are for a GREAT cause. I brought home a big stack from the last meeting because I wouldn't take them in the last 3 months of last year. I knew if I did that I wouldn't get any of my own quilts quilted.
Since I finished 3 of my own projects this month (and the next 2 quilts are really involved) I'm going to motor through this pile and get them done before the next meeting.
Here are the my #5 and #6 quilts of the year.
I know I've shown this before but this is a reminder of how I get so many done so quickly. We make then about 48 x 60 so I can load 2 at a time. I try to pair them up so that I can use the same quilting design and same thread on both. I load them really close so that the quilting just continues from one quilt to the other. One quilting session = 2 quilts. There's such a sense of accomplishment that you can see why I love doing them.
This is the third Elvis quilt that Becky has made (and the last of her Elvis fabric collection). Both of the previous ones have received offers to purchase! People still love Elvis.
We get fabric donated to us all the time and in one of those grab bags Carolyn found this Army fabric.
She matched the yellow in the print to give this simple layout a touch of brightness.
I've actually had Carolyn's top for months just waiting for another top that needed a pale gray backing. Elvis was a perfect partner and the stars and ribbons pantograph was perfect for both quilts.
Fabric of the week
All of the news this week is about gradients: sale, new and back in stock. The fabric of the week is Flourish. This beautiful floral-inspired gradient is 20% off through Sunday! Get yours while supplies last.
Obviously inspired by the beautiful colors of autumn. The color transitions from butterscotch to orange to almost brick. This gradient is similar to Sassafras but much brighter. It's your one stop shop for applique autumn leaves!
Back in stock
Miriam Ahladas used Jenny Lake for the background of her art quilt. Jenny Lake was inspired by a hike around Jenny Lake in the Gran Tetons.
Shelly Crosby used Forest Canopy as the background for her adorable fox. Forest Canopy was designed to coordinate with Woodlands gradient.
Summer Sunset is actually my favorite gradient and I'm planning a quilt in this palette.
Now that the quilting on Jackie's Choice is done I'm no to the 12 placemats. There aren't going to be a January finish but they should be done in a couple of weeks. I found some floral yardage in my stash for the black ( you can see that on the back roller). I split it in half and sewed the 2 pieces together. I can quilt 3 across the width.
I'm quilting in free motion straight lines and it's going surprisingly fast. I like for the placemats to be quilted to death because it makes them less of a mess after washing. I do iron my placmats and these will require less pressing.
Between quilting sessions I'm working on hand stitching the binding for Jackie's Choice. I'm hand stitching this one since it's a memory quilt and it's for a cousin that I don't know well so I want it to be extra nice.
In the sewing room Laura has been busy on her Stack and Whack quilt and the top is done! She'll take it back to England to have it quilted and it will be a quilt for her lounge.
This week is all about finishing Jackie's Choice, finishing quilting the placemats and starting to quilt a giant stack of veterans quilts....and visiting my very cute dentist.
It's quilted and trimmed! I'm starting binding today.
Well this didn't take long and I have to say that it's nice to work on some bright colors during the gray days of January. I've decided to call them my Spring placemats and I'm making them into 3 sets of 4. This red/orange set has all flowers on stems. The border colors are just random reds, orange, yellows and purples pulled from the colors of the blooms.
This set has all big blooms.
The third set is all in purple and green.
I'm ready to start quilting these but I'm quilting Jackie's Choice first.
It's loaded and I'm quilting it in a bronze colored thread and I'm loving the effect so far.
I might have gotten a little carried away cutting veterans quilt kits the past 2 days but at least I'm prepared for the next several months of sewing with my quilt club!
Next I tackled a stack of patriotic batiks. I won a gift certificate for Fat Quarter Shop and decided to spent it on patriotic fabrics for veterans quilts. Of course I spent an additional $75 to get coordinating yardage. I added some batiks from my collection and have 3 quilts cut from these fabrics now.
I ended my cutting session with several pieces of leftover blue backing from the puppy quilt. I finally opened the rectangle Accuquilt die to cut enough for half the rectangles needed for this quilt. I didn't start looking for other fabric until I had cut the blue. I had a little panic because I didn't seem to have anything that I liked with the blue. But I went to the FQ drawers and pulled a warm side rainbow. I don't know how this quilt will be arranged, there are too many options. I could see myself getting a little obsessed with rectangles....
That's 6 kits and I need to stop this for a while. The sad thing is that the only difference that I can see in my stash is that I can get the lid on the plaid bin now. Otherwise, it looks exactly the same.
Now I'm going to do some sewing and quilting and get on with the placemats and the Jackie's Choice quilt for my cousin.
I love Stash Packs! While I'm not an art quilter, I am a scrap quilter so a pack of fat eighths really feeds my soul. It's the textures of 2 Stash Pack fabrics that are going to make this Hunter's Star quilt sparkle. I used one pack of Crossroads and a pack of browns that's out of stock. I couldn't let the most popular color theme of Stash Packs stay out of stock though. I have a new pack for you this week.
Good Earth Stash Pack
Good Earth has 10 beautiful, rich and very textured shades of brown. These are great for landscape quilts or even traditional quilts, like I'm doing. Here are a few other quilts made with Stash Packs.
Marcy George used Stash Packs in browns and greens for the background of her tree silhouette.
Margaret Griffiths used three Stash Packs, including a purple, for her striking quilt.
Patricia Caldwell used one fat eighth from a Stash Pack of blacks, grays and browns for her Moonlight Leaves quilt.
As you can see, Stash Packs are very versatile! They come in almost every color theme, color wheel and shibori.
Shop Stash Packs now!
I work on veterans quilts when I'm at the sewing days with my quilt club. One a month we get together on a Friday and Saturday for some sewing and a lot of talking.
This is the one that I'm currently working on but it's going to be done next month. I don't like to cut there (for some weird reason) so I like to make kits and have them ready.
Last week while watching TV I got into EQ to design some simple quilt layouts that I might use. I already have 6 tutorials that I can use but I thought I'd see what else I can come up with. Here's what I came up with.
I have some patriotic batiks and I'm thinking this simple layout might work well.
This is a layout that one of our club members did a few years ago and there's nothing easier than a 9 patch!
I'm thinking of using this one for some of my stash of plaid fabrics with this simple layout and combine them with a hand dyed fabric for the frames.
For some reason I bought an Accuquilt die for a rectangle.It was stupid to buy such a simple shape. I really prefer to use the Accuquilt for things like triangles and diamonds. But I have this and it's about time that I use it. There are as many possibilities for a rectangle shape as there are for squares.
I have 2 bins of black, white and red prints and this could be fun to make.
I'm going to pull out some fabrics and cut for a couple of days and see how many kits I can put together.
The first fabrics will be these. My friend Anne and I bought fat quarter packs of these several years ago. She needed my pack to finish a quilt for her brother-in-law. These are the leftovers. I'm going to figure out a way to use them in a veterans quilt.
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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