I finished 13 books this month! That's the best indication of all as to how much time I spent actually doing things other than computer work this month. This is a real mixed bag of book but there is one theme. An excessive number of these books involve jumping time to tell the story and, frankly, only one did it well.
Most of these were purchased through the Audible Daily Deal and that's always a crap shoot. Some are big winners and some, not so much.
These reviews are my opinion so take them with a grain of salt. If you've read any of them I'd love to see your opinions in the comments. Also tell me any good books that you have read lately!
A Sunless Sea
By Anne Perry
This is the 18th book in the William Monk series. The books are set in Victorian England and WIlliam Monk (by this book) is commander of the River Police. This one opens with a mutilated body of a woman on Limehouse Pier.
Clearly I enjoy this series. If you like mysteries and stories set in Victorian England I think you will like it too.
TBlack Eyed Susans
by Julia Heaberlin
The best thing about this book is that is was relatively short.
Tessa was one of the "black-eyed Susans" left for dead in a field when she was 16. She survived and it's 20 years later when a group of people are trying to get the convicted person off death row.
Tessa is completely unbelievable. She's psychologically messed up but also an incredible designer who supports herself and her daughter custom sewing dance costumes and designing staircases from vintage auto parts. You know, because those things are related. Ridiculous!
The story is weak, the characters not particularly interesting, the political overtones are completely one-sided and the ending is interesting but unbelievable. The most annoying part is the constant flipping back and forty in time.....seemingly every 3 paragraphs. The narrators are really good though!
The Sound of Glass
by Karen White
Karen White knows how to tell a Southern story! I love her character development and the Southern culture in her stories. This is the publisher's summary:
It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward's husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news - Cal's family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal's reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt. Charting the course of an uncertain life - and feeling guilt from her husband's tragic death - Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal's unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt's, will change and define her as she navigates her new life - a new life complicated by the arrival of her too-young stepmother and 10-year-old half brother.
Merritt's step-mother is the best character in this book and I dare you not to love her and want her to be in your family too.
The Wild Inside
by Christime Carbo
With this book we moved the mystery to Glacier National Park.
When Ted Systead was young a grizzly attacked and killed his father when they were on a camping trip together. Now he works for the Department of the Interior as an investigator and is sent to Glacier to investigate another grizzly attack.
Nice book, good characters that I'd like to read about again, good story and the great outdoors. But if gruesome scenes disturb you don't read this one.
by Brian Panowich
Bull Mountain in Georgia has been the home of the Burroughs family for generations and they have survived mostly through illegal activities from moonshine to marijuana to gun running. One of the brothers has gone "good" by becoming the local sheriff. Now a federal agent has come into town with a plan to shut down the mountain business.
This was a surprisingly good story with a very interesting twist as we learn who the federal agent really is.
Julia Heaberlin (see Black-Eyed Susans above) should read this book to see how transitions between times are done well. The flashbacks in this book are appropriately timed, perfectly relevant and contribute to the storyline at just the right times.
The Ghost War
by Alex Berenson
I started this series last month and was happy to be on another John Wells adventure. He's like Mitch Rapp 2.0 and George Guidall is one of my favorite narrators.
Why We Make Things and Why It Matters
by Peter Korn
I got this book as one of the Audible Daily Deals so the 2 best things about it are that it was inexpensive and it was short. It's an autobiography and not really about "why we make things".
But if you are interested in how one person has turned his "craft/art" into a career you might enjoy this.
You are Not so Smart
by David McRaney
If you are looking for a fun non-fiction book this is it. The publisher's summary says it all:
An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise. You believe you are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is, but journalist David McRaney is here to tell you that you're as deluded as the rest of us. But that's OK - delusions keep us sane. You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self-delusion. It's like a psychology class, with all the boring parts taken out, and with no homework. Based on the popular blog of the same name, You Are Not So Smart collects more than 46 of the lies we tell ourselves everyday.
by CJ Box
Joe Pickett is a Wyoming game warden and this is the 15th book in the Pickett series. If you like Craig Johnson's Longmire series I think you will like these books. Somehow I jumped for the 1st to the 15th so now I need to go back and catch up.
A God In Ruins
by Kate Atkinson
Oh, where to begin. Here's another example of a book that has rave reviews and, personally, I just don't see it.
The story is about the life Teddy Todd. He was a bomber pilot in WWII, married his childhood sweetheart and had an obnoxiously self-centered daughter and 2 grandchildren. Aside for the war years, that's a pretty dull story line and it took over 2 hours to get into it.
Once again this month I get to jump back and forth in time with no pause or warning. I can't tell you how many times I had to stop the recording and rewind to figure out what happened. That's part of the reason it was hard to like in the beginning. But I stuck with it, eventually understood what was going on and enjoyed the flashbacks into Teddy's WWII career.
In between we had Teddy's plodding and docile life. It was fine but it was not great literature.
It all fell apart with the Dallas-esque (TV show) ending. Do you remember that show? I'm not talking about "Who killed JR", I'm talking about the big opening scene one season. At the ending this became a cheap, cliché book in ruins.
Great literature? I don't think so. I think she just has some great PR people to post reviews all over the internet. There are many better books about people's lives during WWII so I wouldn't recommend wasting time on this one.
PS After writing this review I had drinks with friends and we started talking about books. One of my friends read this one and totally agreed with me. I feel validated.
It's A Long Story
by Willie Nelson
What a breath of fresh air this book was after the last one. You know Willie Nelson can tell a good story just by listening to the hundreds of songs he's written. Did you know that he wrote Crazy, the song made famous by Patsy Cline? I learned that and a whole lot more about his singly focused life. He's one of those people who has music just flowing out of him every minute of every day. Oh, and pot. He is totally obsessed with legalizing weed.
I loved this book!
Cold Cold Heart
by Tami Hoag
My last book of May is about Dana Nolan, a TV reporter who survived being abducted by a serial killer. The book opens with her escape from "Doc Holloway" and the start of her recovery from traumatic brain injury. She is take home to recover with her mother and step-father. While there she becomes interested in investigating the disappearance of her high school best friend 7 years before.
I've ready one other Tami Hoag book and I think the comments that I made in my book spreadsheet also applies to this book: very predictable. I knew who did it as soon as the character was introduced and I'm not usually very good at that.
It's a fine story but it's not exceptional. There are characters (her new therapist, the retired detective, the dog) that could play an interesting role int he story but they are really just left hanging and it makes you wonder why the author bothered to introduce them at all. There are a couple of other story lines that are introduced (her father's death, the weird relationship with her step-father) that could have added more interest and story line twists but they never really go anywhere meaningful. Additionally her brain injury isn't consistent. Sometimes she's confused but when dealing with the case she's as alert as anyone.
According to Audible this is the 5th in the Kovac and Liska series but neither character appears in this one so I'm not sure what that's all about. I think I'd only read another if it, like this one, was an Audible Daily Deal and cost less than $4.
Patriotic Flag Postcards
Just in time for Memorial Day weekend I finished up these cards. Some are our Airbnb guests this weekend.
I got 16 cards made from the leftovers of my QOV quilts and then I threw out all of the leftover fabric so that I'd stop obsessing over it. If you want them you are welcome to come empty my trash can.
The center flags are from some ribbon that I bought at a quilt show a few years ago.
I'm taking the long holiday weekend to heart and will be back here Tuesday. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Did you think that I totally forgot to work on my mosaic wall? I almost did.
I think I cleaned things up too well and was loathe to mess it up again. But the urge could not be squashed and I had to get back to it this week.
I've been wanting to do a dragonfly for a long time but was saving it for this specific spot....right next to the window overlooking the pond. Of course, in hindsight, I could have pointed it toward the window but there's no controlling the flight of a dragonfly.
The body is made from fused glass bits and the wings are from 2 broken pots that I've had for a long time. The both had crackle type glaze but there wasn't enough of either to be a big feature. I had just enough for the wings and the crackle texture is perfect for lacy dragonfly wings. The top wing could have been darker but I work with what I have and that's what I had.
The pale blue background is from some 50 cent plates from a thrift shop.
Here's where it fits in the wall. I like having a light value block up near the window.
Now, what to do next?
This is above our front door. It's an Eastern phoebe nest. They love nesting around houses and barns and they are very comfortable around people and buildings. When we first moved here they would nest over the light fixture on the back porch....until we installed a ceiling. The first snake that I saw at this house was a giant black snake crawling up the porch to get to that nest. It got chopped in half and returned to the woods as a lesson to the other snakes. In the past few years she has been nesting on a gutter outside our bathroom window but that nest got destroyed recently. Then Chris had the garage door open one day and she was desperately building a nest in there. When he closed the door she was building here within an hour. We decided to leave her alone even though it's going to end up being a huge mess.
We have to take out a step stool to get a photo and it's an awkward angle but here are her 3 eggs. Yesterday I had lunch outside on the guest house steps to watch her.
Hopefully a snake will not try to climb up my front door to get to them.
We also have another bluebird nest and I'll get a photo of that soon.
New fabric in the shop!
My focus for this week was getting the glass pieces listed. but there's always fabric too! This week I have 2 gradients back in stock and one new Stash Pack.
Fist up is the Dusk To Dawn Stash Pack.
I designed this set of fabrics with eerie skies as the inspiration. There are grays, blues and a little purple to help you render your artistic sky.
The Black and Beach Walk Gradients are back in stock!
Just working on things
Not much exciting to repot around here. Finally getting the new glass listed Sunday was my big accomplishment for the week but I'm also getting in a little work in on my own projects in between.
I finished the outline quilting on the mandala shapes and now I'm doing Spirograph-inspired quilting in all of the red areas. I keep wanting to do a lot of background quilting but this will be a QOV and I intend for it to be a "blanket" for someone so I'm restraining myself to keep it soft and cuddly. In the largest star points I'm doing 16-pointed stars. In the smaller sections I'm doing 8-pointed stars. I've done enough to know that I absolutely want to do this on one of my UFO quilts that's nothing but circles.
At the glass table I'm gluing together 2 more sun catchers. I glue the pieces to a clear sheet of glass and then turn the whole thing upside down for firing. Fusing it upside down keeps the lines crisp. If fired them right side up the pieces would spread apart a bit. This part takes a few sessions on multiple days to get the pieces ground and glued.
I'm still trying to get the glass table organized. I ordered some nice roller carts that I can roll out when I'm working. Unfortunately, one kit was missing a caster gasket and I've been having multiple emails back and forth with them. They have sent me 2 wrong replacement parts so far. I'm going to the hardware store to see if I can get a gasket but I'm continuing the conversation because it's becoming funny. The customer service people have a parts diagram for the kit but that diagram doesn't match the actual parts in the kit. I've sent photographs of what the part looks like but because they can't reconcile it with the diagram they are totally confused. The gasket isn't a separate part because it comes preinstalled in the leg. How many different ways can you explain that their part #1 in the diagram actually comes as 2 parts in the kit. They do not understand the concept of 1A and 1B and I'm just the type of person to keep on them until someone there finally gets it.
I was setting up my glass table this weekend and realized that I needed some room. That was the spark that finally motivated me to photograph and list the new pieces, especially the sun catchers. Of course, we are not getting much sun around here lately so I could call them cloud catchers.
I got a few other things listed as well but let's start with the sun catchers.
These are the 6 big pieces that range from 8" - 10". There are a few small 4" pieces too. Clearly I'm still working on my glass photography skills. Each image links to the product page for that sun catcher.
There are some tree and pinwheel ornaments too. I love making these and they would be great gifts. The pinwheels (except for #4) are made with dichroic glass so they reflect a lot of light and change color in different light.
Finally there's this piece that I'm calling Flourish. The technique is called kiln carving. I cut out shapes from a thick high temp fiber paper, arrange the pieces on the kiln shelf and then fire it with the glass on top. The glass melts around the shapes. This piece is made with pale lavender glass and comes with the stand. I see this one as a wedding gift.
Now that these are listed I can go make more!
I am very excited today to share several customer projects. You know that nothing makes me happier than seeing what you do with the fabric. Did you know that if you share something you've made with my fabric that you get a 20% discount that's good for 60 days? Yes! You can submit your project and see all of the other customer projects in the Customer Gallery.
I got the pleasure of meeting Louse Hall last year at AQS Lancaster. I see her work more as sculpture than quilting. This piece is dimensional textile art with machine and hand stitching mounted on painted canvas. It's made with the Red Sunset Gradient. She sells her work and this one has sold. We are always happy to hear about fiber artists successfully selling their work!
Patricia Caldwell, aka, The Butterfly Quilter, has been a fiber artist for over 25 years. She has been published in several magazines, has had several gallery shows and sells her original art in her Etsy shop. She works magic with fabric and I'm humbled that she chooses my fabric for some of her art. You can follow her on Facebook. She was the first person to quilt up one of my Crystal fabrics and is working on the second one now. I believe this one was called Mica. You can see more close up photos of this in her Etsy shop.
Here's another one from Patricia. Her Dandelion quilt is all threadwork on the Rocky Road Gradient. There are more photos in her Etsy shop.
This quit is very near and dear to my heart. People buy the shibori fabrics and I find that they are often "afraid" to cut into them. Not Susan Lamatrice! I love that she took her collection and made them the feature of her quilt. The orange background frames them perfectly. You can follow Susan on Instagram.
This last quilt is from one of my local quilting friends, Margaret Griffiths. Margaret has a very high stress job at an advertising agency and the creativity that she relies on there really shines through in her quilts. She makes A LOT of quilts! She loves doing challenges and that's how this quilt was born. It was a color crayon challenge; she got light purple, purple and pink. She used Stash Packs for this one. You can see a close up photo on her blog.
If you aren't inspired by these quilts then I can't help you!
Leftover hand dyed fabrics
Since I was talking about leftover fabrics yesterday I thought it would be a good time to show you what happens to some of my hand dyed leftovers.
When I am using my hand dyed fabrics I can't toss out even the smallest scrap. I tend to stuff them in a bag and when the bag is full I give it to my friend , Becky. Becky makes the most beautiful quilts! If you follow Barbara Brackman you have seen Becky's blocks often because she tests Barbara's blocks for her block-of-the-whatever programs.
Becky loves vintage quilts, vintage quilt styles and reproduction fabrics. She also loves to applique and she love to mix bits of hand dyed fabric in her reproduction fabric blocks. At our last meeting she shared the progress on her latest project. She let me take these photos so you could see how she integrates the hand dyed fabric with her repro fabrics.
In this block she used hand dyed fabric for the gentleman's hat. I think it looks like suede. She also used it for the pink buds, yellow flower and some of the leaves.
In this block she used hand dyed fabric for the tree branch, some of the leaves, the deer tail and the ground. I think it works great with her repro fabrics.
The berries are hand dyed fabric but check out that leaf on the green apple! She loves to fussy cut her fabrics.
In this block the hand dyed apples and berries really brighten up the block.
This is my favorite. I love how she fussy cut the hand dyed fabrics for her flowers.
See, hand dyed fabrics belong in every quilt!
Leftovers into quilts and postcards
I love leftovers. Food or glass or fabric. Leftovers are probably the reason I never seem to make real progress with my UFO list.
Last month I finished this Quilt of Valor from my UFO list. I was excited to have one less project on my list. But there were leftovers. A lot of them. Way too many to throw out. So now I have 2 more projects on my list!
I decided to use the leftovers to make another QOV.
I decided on a simple Chinese Coins quilt so it would go together fast. It was my project for Friday/Saturday sewing last weekend with Country School Quilters. I got the center of my quilt done.
It will have a dark blue inner border and wide tan border and will end up about 68 x 80, I think. I even got the binding cut.
But there were more leftovers.
There were enough 2 1/2" strips and bits left to make a veteran's size coins quilt (48 x 60) but I didn't have any background fabric. This fabric was out over a year ago but I found 2 pieces on Etsy (from 2 different sellers) to finish this quilt off.
2 more UFO projects!
But there were still lots of bits left!
Last night I pulled them out and started making postcards. First, a few flag cards. I love these and they will be great welcome cards for our Airbnb guests.
Now I'm taking the rest of the leftovers and just playing. Some will likely wind up in the garbage but some will work out just fine. It's fun late night sewing but whatever is left by Monday is going in the garbage!
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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.