Wow, this month went by quickly! My book listening was a little below average this month as I only finished 9 books.My reviews are a mixed bag and before you read them please don't be offended if you like a book that I didn't. That's why we have options. What's good to me might be garbage to you. That's why I welcome you to add your own opinions about any of these books on the comments.
I also welcome your recommendations. One of the books this month came from one of your recommendations and I really enjoyed it.
I think my highlights this month were revisiting Joe Pickett, Cork O-Connor and Charlotte and Thomas Pitt in 3 fiction mystery series. In non-fiction I really enjoyed The Elephant Whisperer and Dueling Neurosurgeons.
What good books have you read recently?
By CJ Box, Narrated by David Chandler
It's been a year since I've checked in with Joe Pickett. He is a Wyoming game warden who has a habit of getting caught up in some serious crimes beyond his job description. This time it's terrorists using an abandoned sheep ranch in the Red Desert.
If you like lots of action and interesting characters you will enjoy the Joe Pickett series. I haven't read all of them but will start going back and filling in. They are complete enough on their own that you don't really need to read them in order.
David Chandler is a great voice for Joe and I hope the publisher never changes the narrator for the series.
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons
by Sam Kean, Narrated by Henry Leyva
I think I picked up this book based on a recommendation that Kristen F posted on one of my book review comments. Yes, I do read your recommendations and often add them to my Audible Wish List.
I know non-fiction isn't in everyone's bailiwick but I love non-fiction and have been on a medical non-fiction fixation lately and this one did not disappoint!
This is the history of brain research told through the tales of the most famous patients of brain research. It's reasonable that what we know about brain function was, largely, based on studying the people whose brains don't function properly. This book takes us on a historical journey to show how we learned about brain function. It's told mostly in layman's terms so that it's easy to understand. It reads like book of short stories and it kept me interested throughout.
By William Kent Krueger, Narrated by David Chandler
This is the 4th book in the Cork O'Connor series. The series is set in a northern Minnesota town near the Anishinaabe Indian reservation. Cork is a former sheriff of the town but gets involved in the case of a murdered teenager when his wife agrees to represent the accused, Solemn Winter Moon. Winter Moon is the girls ex-boyfriend.
At the beginning of the book the case seemed very clear. I couldn't figure out how the story could possibly unfold to need more space but Krueger is a excellent story teller and added a quite surprising ending. I like the characters, I like the town and I like the narrator. There are already 15 books in this series so I need to pick up my reading pace on these.
By Edward Rutherfurd, narrated by Jean Gilpin
I think my favorite genre of book is historical fiction, the longer the better. I absolutely love multi-generational books a la Ken Follett, James Michener, Bryce Courtenay and Edward Rutherfurd. I loved his 2-volume books on Ireland, Sarum, London, New York and Russka so I was really looking forward to Paris.
Now I feel a little let down. It has all the right elements: many generations of several families from all walks of society, hundreds of years of history intermingled with real historical figures. But it is almost impossible to follow (in audio format anyway) because it randomly jumps back and forth in time which makes tracking the characters virtually impossible. It was really confusing for the first 3rd of the book (and this one comes in at 38 hours). I finally got some sort of grip on the characters and events and felt settled in the book. WWI ended and the build up to WWII started and then suddenly we are thrust into the early 17th century and the doings of Cardinal Richelieu.
It's really a good story but if I had a paper copy I'd rip it apart, put it in chronological order and then read it. In the audio version that's not possible and I think that listening to it is too much work for me to recommend it.
The Girls of Atomic City
by Denise Kiernan, narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Very little of this book is about women who worked at Oak Ridge. Yes, there are women whose "stories" are carried through the book but really only anecdotal. These aren't the women of Hidden Figures who made major contributions to social change at NASA and to the space race. The women in this book are real people but represent thousands of women who worked during WWII.
The majority of the book is simply general history about the creation of the atomic bomb, the decision to drop it and the aftermath. Frankly, there are better books about that. This one is way to disjointed and the "girls" stories don't really add anything relevant to the telling. That's not meant as an insult to the women who worked there. It's meant as commentary of the poor writing job of the author.
by Mary Burton, narrated by Christina Traister
If you like romance novels and mystery novels you will like this one. The plot is actually pretty interesting and I thought I'd like the fact that the main character lives in Ashland, VA, my little town. But the author doesn't really use the local Richmond area landmarks. There's a scene that obviously takes place at The Jefferson Hotel but she doesn't even mention it. So the location could have been anywhere.
I'm not a big fan of romance novels and I'm not sure how I ever picked it in the first place. It was probably a Deal of the Day.. It's the first in a series about a Riley Tatum, a state trooper. She arrives on an murder scene and is sees that her new case might be related to something that happened to her in Louisiana 12 years ago. I liked the plot a lot but didn't love the telling.
The Elephant Whisperer
by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
narrated by Simon Vance
You might remember a book called Elephant Company that I read (and loved) last year. Coincidentally, it was June of last year. I guess June is now elephant month.
I don't have a particular fascination with elephants. Mostly I just like good books about things that I know little about.
This book is about a herd of troubled elephants that Lawrence Anthony accepted on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. These elephants has escaped so many times that if he had not taken them they were going to be destroyed. They escaped again the first day he had them on the new reserve but he eventually earned their trust and today Thula Thula has 2 healthy herds. It is a lovely story about the reserve, the elephants and some of the amazing things that happen in the wild. It's well written and perfectly narrated by Simon Vance.
Fun fact: Lawrence Anthony is the person who went into Baghdad during the Gulf War to save as many animals as possible. There's a book about that too.
To Speak For The Dead
by Paul Levine, narrated by Luke Daniels
Jake Lassiter is a former football player sidelined due to injury so he became a lawyer instead. The story opens with him defending a surgeon against a medical malpractice case. During the trial he learns that his defendant had a relationship with the victim's wife, a former exotic dancer. Add in the dead man's angry daughter, a retired coroner who hates being retired and a body building chauffeur/boat captain/"personal assistant" and maybe it's not malpractice afterall.
I was kind of excited to read this book because it's the first in a long series. I envisioned another fun series to follow and I do like legal thrillers. Instead, what I got was something like Carl Hiaason trying to write like Michael Connelly. It wasn't a good legal thriller because of the idiotic decisions that Jake Lassiter makes. However, with a little clever writing it could have crossed over into humor based on all of those stupid decisions and one more small step toward stupid for the characters.
Instead we are to believe that an attorney would team up with a retired coroner to rob a grave, that the same defense attorney would agree to meet with main prosecution witness late at night in the middle of a Florida swamp and that a judge reads the racing forms while presiding over trials. You also have to endure a LOT of football references. I love football and it got tedious even to me.
Some years ago I read part of the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods. The series wasn't my cup of tea but if you like Stuart Woods I think you would like Paul Levine.
by Anne Perry, narrated by Davina Porter
This is the 8th book in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series. Charlotte's sister Emily and her husband are visiting with family in Cardington Crescent when her husband is murdered and Emily is a prime suspect.
I am reading 2 of Anne Perry's series, this one and the Monk series. Both are set in Victorian England and draw contrast between the lives of society people, working class and poor. In this series Charlotte moves between both because she married a police officer, much below her class. She and her sister remain close.
Anne Perry is a very good writer. I love how she develops her characters and builds her plot. These aren't deep and complex mysteries but you can easily imagine that the characters are accurate to the time period. They are always a good read and Davina Porter is an outstanding narrator.
The Rainbow's End top is done! I really love this quilt. I love it a lot more than I ever expected. I love the pale blue background and the effect of the Color Wheel Warm Gradient border. On Monday I showed the blue backing that I dyed for this quilt and I just need to pick a binding color and get that dyed.
This makes 2 Rainbow tops that need to be quilted and I've decided that these will get done by the end of July.
With that in mind I dyed this backing for the other Rainbow Quilt.
I'm going to quilt the wedding quilt and these 2 quilts with simple all-over designs. These need to get done. I consider them "blankets", not "quilts" so the sooner I get them done the sooner they can bring comfort to someone.
I am very excited to have the Rainbow fabrics finally at the end....except for the blocks I saved for placemats! I'll try to get to those soon.
Thanks to some extra internet data from our ISP, Chris and I have been watching a bit of Netflix the past couple of months so I haven't had to wait for football season to make progress on the applique borders. Thanks to some Longmire episodes last week I finished the first border for my applique quilt!
Each border has 10 blossoms and once the borders are done there will be 4 corner blossoms to do. Here are the last 2 blossoms. I'm now 22% done with the borders!
Here are a few more of the blossoms from this border. I have the second border out and ready to start on this week, hopefully.
The Fabric of the Week this week is Lodgepole. This is Shades Pack of 5 shades of a medium green. Lodgepole is related to Conifer and both coordinate with Jenny Lake Gradient.
Through Thursday, this fabric is 20% off or $18. That's a $4.50 saving! Shades Packs are dyed when ordered so there's no limit to what you can buy. If you order multiple quantities it comes as one cut. For example, order 2 quantities for 1/2 yard cuts. Ordered received by Wednesday morning (EST) will be shipped July 3. Ordered placed after Wednesday morning will be shipped July 10.
If you prefer email notification of the Fabric of the Week, you can sign up for it here.
There are lots of new fabrics this week too starting with some great new Shibori fabrics. Shibori fabrics are all 1/2 yard one-of-a-kind fabrics. Every fabric is double-dyed to get greater depth of color.
Since before our vacation in May I have been dealing with tendinitis in my left arm/neck/jaw. It's nothing serious but something I deal with all of the time. I seem to have some tendon/muscle pain somewhere in my body all of the time. Usually it's jut an annoyance but this time it's gotten out of hand. As a result I had only 2 goals for this weekend. The main one was to be more attentive to icing my neck and using the TENS machine. The other was to make some serious progress on the Rainbow's End quilt.
I did both! The tendinitis is getting better and I made lots of snowball blocks for the Rainbow's End quilt.
I got the first 2 borders on and am working on the last set of snowball blocks. I am seriously liking this quilt.
I feel so confident that this quilt is going to be done soon that I dyed the back for it this week too! I hope that doesn't jinx me.
I added one more goal for the weekend and got the Misty Morning wedding quilt loaded.
The backing is a gradient and I wanted to center the top. I do that by starting loading the quilt in the center. If you ever need to load a quilt centered on the back I have a tutorial here.
Hopefully I'm all set up for a very productive week!
I have another great project to share with you today! This one is from Eden Thurston from Ontario Canada. She used free-form curved piecing; machine quilting with several sizes of twin needles; hand quilting with size 5 and 8 Perle Cotton; stapled onto a stretched canvas. It's about 10" x 20".
Eden used Forest, Denim and Conifer Stash Packs and Gray Skies and Woodlands Gradients.
What a lovely peaceful piece to have hanging in an office environment. You can tell that Eden puts a lot of meticulous thought into her composition and stitch placement.
I hope you will consider sharing a project that you've made with my hand dyed fabric. You can upload your project in the Customer Gallery and, in appreciation, you will receive a 20% discount that's good for 3 months.
I finally put the scraps away and started making the quilt. First I cut squares for the corners and stitched across then diagonally to make the big snowball blocks. I'm very happy with the light blue mottled fabric for the background.
I couldn't help myself. I had to use the leftover corners. I see placemats in my future. Next I start making all the other crumb pieces into snowball blocks. Fortunately the cut offs from those will be too small for me to save.
Sometimes I really annoy myself. I just could not let them go. I had to do one more thing with the tiny scraps. I've made confetti fabric before and usually use it in postcards in some way.
the process starts with a base fabric. This time it was a fat quarter of white fabric but the fabric doesn't matter because I'm going to cover all of it. On the base fabric I fused a layer of Mistyfuse and then spread out my biggest scraps. I covered the fabric with a pressing sheet and fused that layer.
The next layers are:
I think I might use this "new fabric" for Christmas postcards so I added a layer of Angelina fibers, then another layer of Mistyfuse and, finally, I covered the whole thing in tulle.
Here's what it looks like now. Once I decide what to do with it I'll probably do some stitching to hold the layers together.
I've made several postcards with scrap-made fabric. This is one of the most recent ones. I just need to come up with a shape and I'll be ready to make a set of Christmas cards.
I promise you will not see another post about the rainbow scrap bits. The rest will end their days in a dog bed.
You have to admit, it's going to be really pretty in that dog bed.
I finished the rainbow scrappy blocks and, of course, there were scraps left so I got some postcard interfacing and started piecing some of the scraps onto the postcards. I didn't do much cutting. I used the scraps as I found them.
The top two here started with the centers that were already pieced. The bottom was was just a bit of insanity.
I think that these are my favorites. Isn't it cool what you can make with trash?
Pine Forest Gradient is the fabric of the week this week. For 2 days (or until supplies last) this fabric is on sale 25% off! If you like it catch it before it sells out.
This week I'm also excited to reveal a brand new gradient. When Mom and I visited New Mexico last month we loved the traditional adobe homes of the Taos Pueblo and that inspired this new gradient.
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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.