This was not my best month of reading. I finished 9 books in February and the only real standout was Sapiens. I loved that book. I also enjoyed Bethlehem Road and To Kingdom Come. They are continuations of series that I already enjoy. The other 6 books were kind of "meh".
I hope you have some good recommendations for me this month!
By Lisa Scottoline, Narrated By January LaVoy
I'm always on the search for a great new mystery series so I thought I'd give this series a try. It's based around an all-female law firm and the 2 partners Bernie Rosato and Mary DiNunzio. A new client, 13 year old Allegra Gardner, has shown up to ask them to investigate the murder of her sister Fiona. Allegra believes that the wrong man is in prison.
If you like cliches and stereotypes you will LOVE this book. Can you imagine the uproar if someone wrote about an all-male law firm? Do you expect that ANY law firm would take a 13 year old seriously, even with her own trust fund? Everyone in this book is a cliche from the Italian families, the "genius" Allegra Lonnie, the wronged black man in prison who is accepting "God's will" and the God-fearing mother and church members who couldn't figure out the key clue in their own church. The narrator made is worse by making Allegra sound like a 6 year old, the Italian parents sound like they just arrived in Philadelphia and all of the black people in Philadelphia sound like they live in Birmingham, Alabama.
It's apparently a successful book series but it didn't work for me. Also, the book should be called "Convicted", not "Accused" because Lonnie is in jail, not on trial.
Then She Was Gone
By Lisa Jewell, Narrated By Helen Duff
I got this one from the library because I wasn't going to risk an Audible credit for a book I didn't expect to like. I'm happy to say that it surprised me.
Ellie Mack disappeared when she was 15. She was very happy and well adjusted and her family never could believe that she ran away. Several years alter some belongings and bones are found and the family starts to heal. Ellie's mother, Laurel, then meets a wonderful man and his daughter, Poppy. Poppy looks exactly like Ellie and and Laurel is on a renewed search to find out what happened to Ellie.
I've never read Lisa Jewel before but I'd guess that she definitely writes for female audiences. That said, this wasn't as chick litty as Accused. It was actually an interesting book and I read through it pretty quickly. I felt that the character development was good and people behaved as you would expect. Some things were no surprise at all (like who Poppy is) but other things were surprising (like who Poppy isn't). All in all, a good read.
By Edith Hamilton, Narrated By Suzanne Toren
If you are interested in mythology then you have probably already read this book. It was published in 1942 and is still popular. It's popular for good reason. The way that Hamilton organized the book makes it much easier to understand the Greek, Roman and Norse myths. I really enjoyed it but I think I would have retained more from it if I had read in in paper. It would have been beneficial to reference back to previous chapters.
I've read a few books on mythology and this one is the best by far. I think I actually retained some information this time.
By Yuval Noah Harari, Narrated By Derek Perkins
This book has been out a couple of years and it's so popular that I still had to wait a couple of months to get it from the library. Now that I've finished it I know why. It's excellent! It's not just evolutionary history, it's really about every aspect of humankind and Harari does a great job of breaking topics down to the bare essence. Even better, there's no political agenda! But his discussion of history actually helps to reanalyze today's challenges by comparing them to the essence of events in history. Once I started I couldn't put it down and I'm sure that was helped by the excellent narration.
Long Road to Mercy
By David Baldacci, Narrated by Brittany Pressley and Kyf Brewer
I am officially done with Baldacci. This book is simply horrible. In this book he starts a new series with the ridiculously named, FBI Special Agent Atlee Pine. She was a competitive weight lifter in high school and college so she's freakishly strong and able to lift the weight of a dead man. Her personal baggage is that her twin sister was abducted from their bedroom when she was 6 and no one knows what happened to her...although Atlee is sure that it's a serial killer in a nearby prison. I'm sure that particular storyline will travel through future books.
In this story she is a one-woman FBI office near the Grand Canyon. She's been offered bigger jobs but prefers to work on the front lines. This story opens when she is called to investigate a mutilated mule deer and the disappearance of it's rider. This leads to multiple ambush and chase scenes where she and her 60ish secretary are able to fend off multiple attackers with machine guns and other advantages. Girl power always wins out and scenes wrap up basically with the men going "duh, OK, I guess you got me".
The whole thing is made worse by a poor choice for narrators. The female would be better narrating a strong woman in a cozy mystery, not a tough FBI agent. The male narrator makes most of the men sound like Forrest Gump-type characters.
I'm glad that I listened to this book so I could multi-task with my time. I would have hated to totally waste that 11 hours.
To Kingdom Come
By Will Thomas, Narrated By Anthony Ferguson
This is the second in the Barker and Llewelyn series. Cyrus Barker is a private detective in Victorian London. Thomas Llewelyn is the assistant that he hired in the first book.
This book opens several bombs have been set off all over London. Barker and Llewelyn go undercover to infiltrate the Irish Republican Brotherhood as they are planning a much bigger attack to bring down the monarchy and the city.
These books are a lot like the Anne Perry series and are fiction based on some real events of the time. They aren't heart-pounding mysteries but if you like Sherlock Holmes or Anne Perry books you will like this series. They should be read in order though because there are references to things in the first book.
The Killing Season
By Mason Cross, Narrated by Eric Meyers
This book was another opportunity to get into a new series. It is the first book in the Carter Blake series. Blake is an expert in finding people who do not want to be found and the FBI frequently uses him. This time he's called to find Caleb Wardell, a sniper, who has escaped from prison custody. He's working with FBI agent Elaine Banner to find Wardell as he roams the mid-west on a sniper mission.
This book has some great reviews but it just didn't work for me. I am not a good storyteller, I'm more of a chronicler, telling a story with facts and not a lot of emotion or suspense. I felt that way about this book. I didn't really understand the sniper of his motive and Blake's magical way of tracking Wardell just didn't work. The sexual "tension" between Blake and Banner seemed forced and tossed in just to add a sexual angle.
I wasn't all that entertained so will not be reading more of this series.
Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrafice
By Adam Markos, Narrated By Dominic Hoffman
I love good military hero stories and am glad that I read this book to learn about 2 US Navy pilots from the Korean War: Ensign Jesse Brown, the first US Navy black carrier pilot and Lieutenant Tom Hudner.
It's a GOOD story. It's not a epic story. I'm glad I read it but it's not even close to the quality of Unbroken. A lot of this book is about the key people before they came into the military and a lot of battle detail about the marines that these pilots were assigned to protect. But the book is about 1 event in particular so there's a lot of background and follow-up to fill the pages. That said, both were very worthy of the ships that were later named for them. But just look their names up on Wikipedia and you will get everything you need.
By Anne Perry, Narrated By Davina Porter
This is #10 in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series. The series is set in the late Victorian era. There are a series of murders of members of Parliament.The men are left tied to lamp posts looking like they are stooped drunks. The story is also tied to the early days of the suffragette movement and the plight of women and their property.
It's not the best book in the series but I love the series and Davina Porter is one of my favorite narrators.
There isn't much actually happening in the studios this week because we are on the last few days of kitchen work! Today should finish everything up so I'll be spending the afternoon and evening putting things back in place. We are very happy with how everything turned out. There have been a couple of bumps but it's all worked out really well.
I am taking a little break from Lost My Marbles to work on some veterans quilts but I found some photos of new marbles that I hadn't shared yet. Since there's nothing else to share I was really pleased to find these!
It's a blue day
Fabric of the Week
The theme this week is blue! Let's start with the fabric of the week, Beach Walk. Beach Walk combines the ocean and sand. Patricia Caldwell used it for sand and sky and that work perfectly too! Beach Walk is 20% off through Sunday.
New Gradient! Monterey Bay
A few weeks ago I shared by failed attempt to replicate Bay of Campeche. Since then I've been working on a replacement and I'm happy to introduce Monterey Bay! Blue gradients are the most popular gradients for art quilters and I like to have a good variety of sky and water gradients for you to choose from. Monterey Bay joins Blue Sky, Sea and Sky and Paradise.
Back In Stock
Sunrise Silhouette by Patricia Caldwell using Jenny Lake as the background.
Art quilt by Rene Iannarelli using the Navajo Gradient.
A busy weekend
One member of this family (not me) had a great February plan to leave town and go golfing in Tampa. We had nothing but gray skies and rain this weekend while he had 78 and sunny. But for me it was sunny and warm inside and perfect quilting weather.
I decided to take a break from Lost My Marbles and see if I could get some veterans quilts done. At last month's meeting the members had finished 16 tops! I don't think they have ever brought me more than 8 at a time. Fortunately I'm not the only quilter in the group anymore so I was able to deliver 4 each to 2 quilters last week and I started working on some this weekend.
These 2 came from Carol C. who is living in Georgia now but visits here frequently. She mailed these 2 tops to me. She said she was making a queen size quilt but didn't like it. So she took it apart and made these 2 veterans quilts. I love both of these quilts and I love getting quilt tops in pairs because I always quilt 2 at a time.
I went bold and quilted both of these in red thread and used a Woodgrain pantograph.
I think the overall texture looks great on the back.
In between quilting sessions I had a lot of cutting sessions. I started Judy Neimeyer's 4th of July quilt last month at the CSQ sewing days and after that weekend I realized that it was a pain to do all of the cutting and sewing there. I had to take a huge back of supplies and try to keep everything in order as I cut and drew 4 blocks at a time.
It took a long time but I got all of the fabrics cut and foundations ready for the quilt.
The standard quilt is 54 x 71 which is pretty useless for me but it would be a nice sofa size for a gift. For now, I just cut out the regular size but I have all of the foundations to do a queen size. I'll see how I feel after I make the blocks I have prepared.
Now I can leave the bag of leftover fabric and foundations at home and all I have to travel with is the smaller orange bag. It was a ton of work and make a huge mess but it was worth it.
Customer Gems - Jeannette Ringuette
Jeannette Ringuette's landscape quilt is based on a picture that a friend from work took while he was vacationing in Florida. She recreated the view in fabric and gave this to him as a late Christmas present.
She used applique, thread art, fabric paint, and a bit of painted cheesecloth to create the beach scene. She even used a makeup pad which she painted yellow for the sun.
Jeannette used the Thistle Shades Pack for the perfect purple-gray colors of the evening sea. Thistle is a great fabric for landscape quilts. It's almost black but not as stark as black and the lighter shades are almost gray but not as cold as gray. It's very popular with landscape quilt artists.
For sharing, Jeannette 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.
More Wild Gears, Zentangle and labels
When I posted about my Wild Gears + Zentangle labels last week enough of you were interested that I thought I'd share a little more along with the last 2 finished quilt labels.
When you order Wild Gears they come like this. They are precision laser cut and there are a lot of gears on one sheet. This is the Compact Gear Set. The larger Full Gear set that I bough is about 16" square. The larger pen holes are for making parallel designs. You draw once in the large hole and the insert one of the little fillers in the same hole and draw again.
That's how I did this one.
I filled in the space to make a dark frame and then did Zentangle designs to fill the spaces.
For this label I nested one Wild Gears design in another. You can see the pencil lines that I used to center the ring on the label.
Here's the finished label.
I draw my labels on paper and then photocopy them to fabric that's prepared for printing. You can get printable fabric from a lot of sources but I generally prepare my own.
These labels used the last of my stash of printer fabric sheets so it was time to make more this weekend. This is a pretty boring chore so I try to make enough to last me for a while. I fold about 4 yards of Pimatex fabric in a plastic container and pour a whole bottle of Bubble Jet Set over it and let if stand for a few hours to totally soak in. I use Pimatex because the tight, fine weave accepts printing detail better.
After the fabric is saturated I hang it over the shower rod to drip dry, I don't wring it. Hanging it to drain on it's own makes it much easier to iron. I iron it to freezer paper sheets and then I can store it indefinitely for future printing. Here are 55 sheets that I made Sunday so I'm set for a while.
Found more marbles!
Quilting Lost My Marbles is a slow process. With each new circle I stare for a while to figure out what to do then I have to mark the segments and I'm slow quilting because the ruler angles get awkward moving around the circle. I often make mistakes and have to rip out stitching and start over. It probably takes me close to 20 minutes for each one. That's why I love having zippered leaders. I can work on this one slowly and take breaks to do veterans or other quilts in between.
But here are 5 more marbles that I finished this week. I'm coming to the end of the small marbles and then will have 18 big ones to do.
You will notice that the contrast is not good in some of them. That is on purpose although they show up a lot more in real life because the thread is shiny. I picked 3 colors of thread (light, medium and dark) for the marbles. I have 3 more light, medium and dark thread for the background quilting. I'm using this quilt as am experiment in value to help me with future quilts. This one isn't meant for show or anything. It's just for me so I've made it into a laboratory for several things.
Fabric of the Week and new Stars!
Wildfire is the fabric of the week!
The fabric of the week this week is Wildfire Shades Pack. It's the most popular of the orange Shades Packs and it's on sale through Sunday.. It's a very deep rich orange that isn't as bright as Color Wheel orange. It works great in Autumnal color palettes and coordinates with the Sugar Maple Gradient.
There are lots of new Star fabrics in the shop this week. Stars are 1 yard cuts and one-of-a-kind. If there's a color you need for your collections get it now because these fabrics can't be replicated.
Lots going on around here this weekend getting the kitchen really close to done! The tile guys set the tile Saturday and did the grouting Sunday.I thought it was really nice of them to work on the weekend. We didn't ask them to, they offered! We are waiting on one countertop because the bar counter was measured incorrectly. That should come in this week and then we can wrap it up with carpet cleaning.
It's been a good exercise just to clean out. We've gotten rid of containers, glasses and appliances that we never use and I might even end up with a few empty shelves.
While the tile people worked upstairs, I did tile downstairs.
Here's where I left off last week.
I added more beads all the way across at this level and filled in with background tile. One of the new beads is a teapot lid.
Here's the wall so far.
The rest of the wall has to be done sitting on the concrete floor. I'll vacuum up all of the shards and bits and then get started on more beads this week.
Customer Gems - Stephanie Wilds
Stephanie Wilds has sent us her latest fabrication, The Prophet Bert. It's a monochromatic portrait of her friend, Bert. She used the Black Shades Packs to make Bert. You can see lots more of her fabrications on her website.
For sharing, Stephanie 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.
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In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
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.