I finished 12 books this month. Sine I stopped watching TV I thought I might get through more but it could be that some of these were longer than average. I generally keep to a 10-hour minimum rule for buying books and love when I can get a really good 30+-hour book.
One book that I didn't include in the list is one that I started and then stopped after 45 minutes. What made me think I'd want to listen to Don Quixote is beyond me. But I got over it and moved on. Other than that, I can't say that I disliked any of the books I read this month. John Sandford will generally always top my favorites list for fiction but I also really enjoyed The Lake House. For non-fiction I particularly enjoyed Elephant Company and A Little History of Philosophy. Oh, and Predictably Irrational was quite fun for a non-fiction book.
What recommendations do you have for my future reading list? Most of the books you recommend do wind up on my Audible wish because I'm always searching for good books!
by Sandra Brown
Romance novel masquerading as suspense. It has a brooding, breathtakingly handsome and mysterious leading man with a driven, smart and equally beautiful leading lady. They meet on a remote mountain in North Carolina.
It's fine beach reading when you want something mindless with a little excitement and a good ending.
The narrator, Jonathan Davis, is excellent and will keep you listening all the way through.
The Kind Worth Killing
by Peter Swanson
Did you like Gone Girl? If you did you will love this book. It's full of people with no sense of morality and just when you think you've got the characters all figured out you find out that you don't. It's not my favorite book of all time but it sure kept me intrigued.
Ted and Lily meet on a trans-Atlantic flight where Ted talks about how he would like for his wife to be dead. The book is told from each character's point of view and it does jump back and forth in time but does so in a good way to tell the relevant parts of the story at just the right time.
by Vicki Constantine Croke
This book falls under the category of "I had no idea!".
I had no idea that there was an Elephant Company in WWII that was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma. It's the story of Billy Williams and his work with elephants in Burma. First with the East India Company after WWI and then leading the Elephant Company during the second WW. It's absolutely fascinating.
The Lake House
by Kate Morton
Kate Morton writes stories that span decades and generations and she does it masterfully. This one is set mostly in Cornwall at the estate of the Edevane family. After WWII baby Theo disappears during a mid0summer party. He's never found. Decades later Alice, Theo's sister, is a famous author and is certain that she is responsible for Theo's disappearance an death. Sadie Sparrow is a discredited detective on leave visiting her grandfather in Cornwall and becomes interested in the Edevane family. The ending wraps things up a little too neatly to be believable but you get so wrapped up in the characters that you really don't want it to end any other way.
If you consider getting the audio book be sure to listen to a sample to make sure you like the narrator's voice. Caroline Lee narrates all of Kate Morton's books and I like her a lot but I could see how her voice might bother some people.
What Angels Fear
by C. S. Harris
Another new mystery series for me. This one opens at the beginning of the Regency period in England, 1811. A woman is found brutally murdered behind the women's alter of a church. Viscount Devlin, Sebastian St Cyr, is the prime suspect. If you enjoy Anne Perry and other historical novels you will enjoy this one. This series will keep me busy for a while, there seems to be 11 of them so far and this is the first.
A Little history of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton
This must have been one of the Audible Daily Deal books because it breaks my 10 hour minimum rule. This one is only 7 1/2 hours long and could be called a "Romp Through Philosophy". It starts with Socrates and introduces you to major philosophers and philosophies through time. Believe it or not, this was a very interesting book. I think I'd like to have it in paper so I could use it as a jumping off point for further research.
by Robert Mason
I'm late finding this book. It was published in 1983 and made in to audio format in 2001. Anyone interested in the Vietnam War has probably already read it. It is Robert Mason's experiences flying helicopters in Vietnam. It's one of the most popular books every written about the Vietnam War. I think it's popular because it tells probably one of the few stories about that war that is palatable to people who haven't experienced such things. It's still pretty gruesome but not so bad that you can't read it.
The Vietnam War ended when I was in early high school so I was never as aware of it as adults of that time. This isn't the heroic tale of Unbroken, but Robert Mason also provided heroic service to the US and his story is worth reading.
by Dan Ariely
It may not seem so from the title, but this is a fun book. It's all about the irrational decisions that we make every day from our choices in medicine, buying coffee, splurging, penny pinching and cheating. "We consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. We fail to understand the profound effects of our emotions on what we want, and we overvalue what we already own. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They're systematic and predictable - making us "predictably irrational." It's easy to understand and a relatively light read. It also helped me identify some things about myself. It's about 8 years old so some of the examples are dated but our human behaviors are consistent.
This one was surprisingly good.
Mightier Than The Sword
by Jeffrey Archer
This is the 5th book in the 7 books Clifton Chronicles series. Someone wrote in a review that Archer's characters have become cardboard cutouts. I couldn't agree more. Reading these had almost become like reading a history text: First this happened and then this happened and then the next thing happened. There little real emotion and everyone conveniently gets out of dangerous situations just in time. It's like watching the old Dallas and Dynasty shows.
But I could deal with all of that. I've read 4 books about the characters so I feel I know them. What I can't tolerate is that every story line ended in a cliffhanger. There's no way you could read this book as a standalone novel. Surely he could have concluded at least ONE story line.
by John Sandford
#25 in the Lucas Davenport series (I'm behind by 1) and this series is still going strong. I finished this in a day. Richard Ferrone is the perfect narrator for Lucas.
Even after 25 books I want more Lucas Davenport. Lettie is central to the story and that's a good thing too. I've always liked the Lettie character
A First-Rate Madness
by Nassir Ghaemi
The publisher's summary is the best summation of the subject matter of this book:
Nassir Ghaemi draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders—realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity—also make for the best leaders in times of crisis.
You read that right. Crazy people make the best crisis leaders. It's actually an interesting thesis and he presented the information well and, to make sure you get it, he repeats it. Add to that a narrator who was so meticulous and measured in his narration that he wanted to make sure that my pea brain could absorb the material. In the end you have a very interesting thesis that I bought into presented in a quite plodding way and I'm left not recommending this one unless you read with your eyes instead of ears.
by John Sandford
This is #26 in the Lucas Davenport series. He's no longer with the BCA and now is working is an independent investigator for the governor (and presidential candidate).
This was the book that Mom and I listened to on our 700 mile journey earlier this week. We are both big Lucas Davenport fans and this one did not disappoint.
If you were a fan of the TV series Justified then you will like the ending of this one.
To Bassett and back
It's no secret that on most days I will always prefer to stay home and work on one of my many projects.But when I do travel I try to get the most out of it. This trip was a short 3-day one but Mom and I drove over 700 miles and checked a lot of boxes.
This is the brother that took the Cathedral Window quilt and I discovered that he and Karen have made parts of the house into displays of handmade things, mostly from me and Mom. These cross stitch pieces were in my bedroom and I had completely forgotten about them. Based on the dates I made one my senior year in college, one the year after then I dumped the other 2 kits on my Mom and she finished them in 1985 and 1986. They hung in the foyer of her house for years. I didn't even know that Tim had them but I'm glad someone does and likes them well enough to hang.
We arrived Sunday and almost immediately left for a small reunion with some people I grew up with. Bassett wasn't the best place in the world to grow up from the perspective of opportunity and exposure to the outside world, but our little neighborhood of 6 houses was ideal. There were 10 kids in 3 families and we all grew up together. I lived there from age 3 to 17. Five of us plus our surviving parents got together for the first time in about 40 years. Most of us are now grandparents! It was really wonderful to connect again.
This is the Google Maps photo of the house that I grew up in. It looks much worse now and and it's the best house in the neighborhood! It's sad to see that our happy little neighborhood is now virtually a slum. I don't remember it being so tiny and have no idea how 6 people lived here without killing each other.
The real purpose of our trip was to go to Replacements to sell some china. I'm in one of my purging modes again and decided to move out some china that we haven't used in 20 years. If you'e never heard of Replacements you should check it out. It's a fascinating business and it is HUGE. The warehouse is at least as big as 2 football fields. They carry every china pattern ever made.
While in North Carolina I couldn't resist a trip to Warm Glass in Clemmons and I also couldn't resist buying some special pieces of glass! This is one of them. I don't order these over the web because you can never be sure what your piece will look like. At the shop I could pick the section that I wanted. Great customer service there too!
We ended Monday with a visit to Mom's sister and Sunday we drove to Roanoke to visit my uncle (Dad's brother) and had a wonderful meet up with one of my blog friends, Kristen Farwig. I've said this before but you really can get to know people on the internet. Kristen and I have corresponded for a long time and I knew we would get along and we did! Now I have 2 people to visit in Roanoke which makes it more likely that I'll visit again.
After a trip back to Martinsville to retrieve Mom's Iphone, we headed home. That was a lot of driving for me for 3 days and I'm pretty exhausted for anything except laundry today.
If you have made it this far I feel like you deserve more photos so I want to share my brother's basement to prove that we are related. Like me, he has the entire basement of his house for his hobbies but his is much neater. Here he exhibits the fruits of one of his hobbies.....axes and hatchets.
I am not kidding.
He like buying old axe blades and refitting them with new handles. Take a look. There are no duplicates in these photos!
I love the added touch of the arrows on the deer antlers. Clearly we embrace and hone our persnickety gene in this family. There's a pretty big freaky factor to this room but I felt strangely at home.
Quilting check in
Today is the day I'm traveling home from Martinsville so I thought I'd post on last week's progress on my quilt. I've finished off the center section. This took me a couple of evenings to mark and quilt. (I'm so glad I use zippers to load my quilts because I've taken this one off 3 times so far to mark sections.)
This is how I tied it into the previous quilting.
Clearly I'm not a total slave to my marking. I used the marks as a guideline but stitched where I thought it looked best.
I'm looking forward to getting back to this later this week.
A mosaic flag
I'm writing this Saturday night because Mom and I left Sunday for a couple of days in Martinsville. By the time this posts Monday we will have attended an impromptu reunion of the families that I grew up with on Blackberry Road in Bassett, VA. I should have a story or 2 later this week.
But I didn't let the weekend go to waste! I finished a new section of the wall late Friday night. This is one that I've had planned for a while and I knew I wanted it at the top of the wall. Notice that there are 10 stars on my flag. That's because Virginia was the 10th state. There are little secrets like that all over the wall.
I can't travel without a travel project so I planning to work on the centers for my flower quilt. I use applique sheets like this or RIcky Tims Stable Stuff for applique and my Go Cutter has the perfect size circle.
Here's my little kit if circles, starch, scissors and a mini iron. Who knows if I'll actually get anything done but I'm prepared if I do have a little time. I don't exactly remember how I did these before but if I get a method working that I like I will write myself a tutorial for the next time.
Tie Dye Quilt of Valor
I finished this over a week ago but completely forgot to share it!
This is my second QOV for 2016 and it finished to about 70 x 90. You can see more detail shots on my Quilt Gallery.
Vintage Flower Block Quilt
If you read the blog regularly this post is going to seem to come out of left field. This project hasn't seen the light of day in a year and a half. But I need a hand sewing project and it seems best to get this one out again rather than starting a new one.
First, some background.
It all starts here with this tin of blocks that I bought from the Virginia Quilt Museum probably 15 years ago. I bought it exactly like this with dozens of flower blocks basted together. There were enough of the basted flowers for 3 quilts. I think I paid $15 for the whole box.
Under the blocks there were hundred of petals. Most are stacked with like fabrics and basted into little stacks. In 2011 I washed and sorted all of the blocks, picked a set of 55 (no duplicate fabrics) and started appliqueing them to white fabric.
They make me so happy. I love every one of the 55 that I completed. Then I took a break to finish the Cathedral Window. But now I have some travel coming up and football season just weeks away so that means lots of available hand sewing time. Fortunately, this project has a lot of hand sewing left to do.
The layout is going to be kind of like this.
Last night I got the center together. It's so sweet it makes my teeth hurt!
I cut all of the sashing and the binding and today I started planning out the vine borders.
The border will be 8" wide and I think I like the look of this 1/2" vine. Now I need to play around with the shape of the vine and how I want the flowers to attach to the vine.
So this is what's on my design wall for the next week or so. Mom and I are taking a little road trip Sunday so I think I will take my solid fabrics and make up a bunch of centers. I need them to help with the layout.
Here's the butterfly postcard that I made this past weekend. I held off sharing it to allow time for it to reach it's destination.
This one started with the butterfly ribbon on the left side of the card. I have 2 drawers full of ribbons and other gewgaws that I'm trying to use in postcards. I thought a monochromatic card might be fun .
I pulled 3 shades of gray for the background, stenciled a butterfly in metallic paint. Stitched around the butterfly in silver metallic then added the ribbon and black edging.
After it was done I thought it needed just one more thing....bling! I added 6 crystals and it was done.
On the topic of crystals, I actually glued these on and this Loctite Super Glue is the Mack Daddy of super glues! These crystals came from JoAnn's and I'm finding that they don't stick all that well with the iron. But a drop of this glue and they are permanent.
I bought the glue when I cracked my $80 ruler plate. Val at The Longarm Network recommended that I try super glue. The helpful lady at Lowe's recommended the Loctite and she was right. The table is as good as new. It doesn't feel weak at all on that side.
The crystals are not coming off my postcards and it took 4 hours for the crystal that I stuck to my finger to eventually come off.
In other news I did not need to start my day with a 5 foot black snake slithering across the front porch (at the OPEN door) while we were trying to figure out why the baby birds had fledged early. I think I burned my vocal cords screaming. But the snake is dead and the birds are back in the nest.
Don't even try to convince me that black snakes are "good" and we shouldn't kill them. Believe me, Chris agrees with you. But he knows that if that snake didn't die that there would be a for sale sign in front of the house by tomorrow. I'd be paralyzed if I didn't know that it was dead.
New in the shop!
My most recent dyeing session was all about restocking some of your favorite fabrics.
Spring Sunset is one of my first gradients and is still very popular. Deb levy used it for the background of her Jellicle Moon quilt.
Malibu Sunset Gradient coordinates with the Malibu Shades Pack and the Solstice Shades Pack. Solstice is the golden color next to the orange in the gradient. I could also create a shades pack of the orange. That holds true for any gradient. Find a gradient you like and I can create custom Shades packs for any of the colors in the gradient.
Envy is very popular with art quilters because of the wide variety of Spring greens in one length of fabric.
Finally, I have more Color Wheel Stash packs in stock. I have the Color Wheel in Fat Quarters and Fat Eighths and Color Wheel Medium Value (one shade lighter) in Fat Eighths. You can see all of the Color Wheel fabrics in the Basics Section of the shop.
Pat Ferguson made this beautiful quilt with a set of Color Wheel fabrics.
Last week I reloaded this quilt to finish up by August and I actually made a little progress this weekend.
Aside from 100 miles of SID quilting, I had done these 2 motifs the first time it was loaded. I'm not particularly happy with either choice but I'm sure not taking it out so I'm building on it. That kite shape in the corner of the orange spikes is something that I'm adding in other areas with quilting and I'm trying to continue some curved shapes into other areas.
Here's one place that got kite shapes. You know me. When in doubt do ruler work.
Then I built another cross-hatched section off of that random curve that I previously quilted in that pale orange section. I sort of had a plan but I'm ignoring it at this point and just building elements one at a time. When I'm done with that I'll likely do a bunch of fill work and call it done. I am seriously uninspired with this quilt but I'm getting in some great practice and it's going to be done!
Tomorrow will be the 2-week mark for my self-imposed new/TV hiatus. Instead of watching morning news I read the Wall Street Journal and I've watched one evening news program 3 or 4 times. I've learned that I haven't missed a thing! There really isn't any news on "the news". I watched some golf this weekend and a couple of shows on HBO and that's it. Instead I'm listening to books and actually "doing" things.
The weather here was beautiful again this weekend so I got to kayak a bit, took some walks and otherwise ignored Chris because the new Bluetooth headphones are virtually noise canceling too. He new has to chase me down to tell me something if I'm listening to a book.
Until football season starts, I'm all in on the "no TV" plan.
One of the things I accomplished this weekend was a new section on the wall. I have no idea what this is. I just started putting blue and green glass pebbles on the wall. Then I bordered them in dark blue. Then I found some red and amber glass pebbles and finally filled in with the plate shards. Cleary I didn't consider the colors in the section right next to it. I just stuck things on the wall and I like how it turned out.
Chris says it's "A river runs through it".
The Eastern Phoebes are about to fledge and not a moment too soon. I had to put a plastic tarp in the front porch and I'm really looking forward to getting it up and throwing it out.
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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.