After I published last month's reviews I realized that I left 2 books off the May list. So I'm starting June with these 2 non-fiction books. With these my total for June is 13. That may seem a little light for me but Chesapeake is 50 hours so should count for at least 4 books! All in all it was a great reading month. There were only 2 duds: The Murder List is simply bad writing and Good Girls Lie is not my genre (psychological thriller).
I didn't have any DNF books this month but I wish I had quit The Murder List.
Do you have any recommendations for is this month? We aren't going to have internet or TV for 2 weeks of our vacation in August so I'm stockpiling books and sewing projects.
By Matthew McConaughey
Anne had the hardback of this book at the beach and I picked it up after she finished it. I had it finished in less than 2 days. What a fun read. This man has had an incredibly interesting life from childhood on. His outlook on life is refreshing. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Voyage of Mercy
By Stephen Puleo, read By Sean Patrick Hopkins
Did you know that the first international aid mission was the USA sending food to Ireland during the potato famine? Me either. But I know it now.
This is the story of the first of over 100 aid ships that were filled by the citizens of the USA to go to Ireland. The USS Jamestown was a retired war ship that was loaned to Captain Robert Bennet Forbes for the mission.
Forbes left a treasure trove of documentation from his life so the book has incredible details about the relief missions to Ireland. It was absolutely fascinating.
By Tana French, Read By Roger Clark
I loved her Dublin Murder Squad Series that seems to have come to an end. This one is a stand-alone book.
Cal Hooper was a Chicago police officer for 25 years. When he retired he, for some inexplicable reason, moved as far away as possible to a remote Irish town. There he could have some space and lots of peace and quite.
Then a local kid shows up and eventually convinces him to look for his missing brother. This little village, it turns out, is full of secrets.
This book has some really mixed reviews on Audible but I liked the book and the narrator. It's not as good as the DMS series but it was a fine read that kept my attention.
By John Hart, Read By Kevin Stillwell
The story is set in North Carolina during the Vietnam War. Gibson (Gibby) French has older twin brothers. One has already died in the war and the other, Jason, returned misunderstood, damaged and with a reputation as a hard (and decorated) killer. After 3 years in prison he returns home to see his little brother and gets both of them into a lot of trouble.
Jason takes Gibby on a day of adventure with 2 women. All is well until they pass a prison bus on the highway and one of the women decides to taunt the prisoners. She is brutally murdered later and suspicion immediately falls on Jason.
That's just the first couple of chapters and there's so much more to this story. It's very much about the mystery of the murder but it's also about family, misunderstandings, secrets and psychopaths. This is one of the most original stories that I've rad in a very long time. It's gritty, brutal, hopeful, and sensitive all at the same time.
If you decide to give this one a try there are some pretty gruesome scenes but he doesn't go into gory details just for the sake of the gore and horror. He provides enough to get across the brutality without leaving you with nightmare inducing images.
The Spanish Promise
By Karen Swan, Read By Yolanda Kettle
I'm really glad my friend introduced me to Chirp books. Audible recommendations are not great. They either recommend really popular authors that I already know about or they are using their recommendations for various forms of virtue signaling. Their algorithms clearly don't follow my own reading patterns anymore.
Chirp is refreshing because they recommend a lot of the books that we've never hear of or new authors. Their daily deal email has turned me into a book hoarder. At least the are all electronic versions so they aren't taking up valuable fabric and yarn storage space.
I've never heard of Karen Swan but she seems to be really popular. This story takes us to Spain (a refreshing change). One the country's richest men is dying and his family has just discovered that he's planning to give his wealth to a young woman from Madrid. No one has any idea who she is.
Charlotte Fairfax is contracted by the bank to meet this woman and convince her to accent a smaller amount. But the woman denies that she knows anything about the man or his gift.
I'd categorize this as a summer beach read. Charlotte is caught between her upcoming wedding, the mystery of the inheritance and an old flame. Mariana, the surprised recipient, is trying to figure out why she's being given this gift and how to deal with that kind of wealth. It was predictable but a fun, light read.
There was one aspect that was annoying. Charlotte is a wealth therapist or something like that. She helps people deal with sudden wealth. There was an overused theme of wealth not buying happiness.
Good Girls Lie
By J. T. Ellison, Read By Fiona Hardingham
Rich people who want someone else to raise their girls send them to the Goode School in Virginia. A new student is arriving from England. She has lost both of her parents and was accepted on scholarship because she doesn't have access to her inheritance. There is one senior girl on campus who seems to run the place. She oversees the honor code review board that doesn't seem to have faculty members (WTH?) and she seems to control the biggest secret society, The Dean is aware of the secret societies and that there is a lot of hazing going on.
When I student is found dead a lot of secrets start to unravel. There's a new sinister element on campus.
It's a psychological thriller in the vein of Gone Girl. I finished it but I won't read other books by Ellison. I read my first one in April and was on the fence about it. This one tipped the scale to "no". It's more rich people problems spread among a full cast of unlikable characters.
The Poacher's Son
By Paul Doiron, Read By Henry Levya
This is the first in a series focused on Mike Bowditch. Bowditch is a game warden in Maine and has almost no relationship with is father. One day he received a message from his father followed by a call from the police the next morning. His bar brawler father is accused of killing a cop and is a fugitive.
Mike believes that his father is innocent and (about halfway through the book) teams up with a retired game warden to hunt for his father and for the real killer.
The story took a while to set up but I suppose that's because it's the first in a series and there are people to introduce and backstories to develop. The actual man hunt got going about halfway through the books. I'm not saying that the first half was boring, it was not. This book got me through a very boring day at the voting polls.
I will try another book in this series to see how the character develops.
A Man With One of Those Faces
By Caimh McDonnell, Read By Morgan C. Jones
First in the Dublun Trilogy
If you like Carl Hiaasen I think you will like this. Set in Dublin, this is a murder mystery wrapped inside a humor book. Paul Mulchrone has a face that everyone seems to recognize. He spends time in local nursing homes visiting with various elderly people who think he's a nephew, son or friend. Eventually he visits with one too many patients and the next thing he knows someone is trying to murder him.
Aided by a nurse who is addicted to crime novels and a cop who has a penchant for violence, they try to solve one of Ireland's most notorious crimes.
It is quite Hiaasen-like. It took me a little to get into it but I think that was mostly because I was distracted with other stuff. I'm going to stick with the series. After finishing this, I discovered that there is a prequel called Angels in the Moonlight so I'll read that next.
Note: Audible has this identified as "Only From Audible". Not so. I got my copy from Chirp for about $5.
Then the fun begins.Ocean Prey
By John Sandford, Rad By Richard Ferrone
#31 in the Lucas Davenport series
Last year I read Masked Prey (#30) and was so disappointed in the political overtones that I almost skipped this book. But since it was free from the library it was low risk. With this book I feel like we are back to the old Davenport and I'm very happy about that. I don't think the Prey books are award worthy but they are fun and fast moving reads.
Three Coast Guardsmen are killed when inspecting a boat off the coast of Florida. An off-duty guardsman was fishing and called in the suspicious boat. The FBI is called in to investigate but their investigation goes nowhere. That's where the US Marshall's take over and Lucas Davenport is called in.
The real treat in this book is that Virgil Flowers along with Davenport's new side-kicks, Rae and Bob are back. The latest books in this series have really changed Davenport's personality. I'm not thrilled with it but it still works with the stories.
The Butterfly House
By Katrine Engberg, Read By Graem Malcolm
If you like the Department Q series by Jussi Adler Olsen then this book will be right up your alley. This book is also set in Copenhagen and narrated by the same reader as the Department Q books. He's an excellent narrator.
There are multiple story lines coming together in this fascinating book. There's a nurse in a local hospital "helping" some patients along into their life journeys. There are also blood-drained dead bodies showing up around the city, specifically in water sites. Lead detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are dealing with their own issues. Korner is just divorced and Werner is a new mother on maternity leave and hasn't quite processed what her new life means.
The Butterfly House is a now-defunct home for troubled teens and everything seems to connect there. There's a prequel to this book too that I'll now go and read. It's called The Tenant.
The Murder List
By Hank Phillippi Ryan, Read By Angela Dawe
I wish I had quit half way through this book when I first wanted to. I kept hoping for it to turn good but it didn't.
Rachel North is a law student married to Boston defense attorney. She's supposedly really smart, hard working and ethical. There's not much actual evidence of that except for the characters saying it.
My beef with this book started with the situation that brought all of the key characters together. Rachel was Chief of Staff for a Massachusetts state Senator. In fact, he's the president of the Senate. Shortly after being promoted to this job (that she's unqualified for) she actually selected to be on the jury of a murder trial. In no place in America would a politician's staff member be allowed to serve on a jury of any kind. Never. No way. To me, that makes the story lazy and it got worse from there.
By James A. Michener, Read By Larry McKeever
I love epic novels and I fell in love with that genre when I first read Chesapeake sometime in the early 1980's. Anyone who lives in Virginia, Maryland or Delaware loves the Chesapeake Bay tells the history of the Bay through a fictional Maryland river and town. I loved it 40 years ago and I loved it this month.
BUT, reading this book is a serious commitment. In paperback it's over 1000 pages and in audio is 50+ hours! Also this book was recorded in the early days of audiobooks (the Books On Tape days) and the narrator is not up to modern standards. Speeding it up to about 1.25 helped a lot.
The Last Child
By John Hart, Read By Scott Sowers
I read another John Hart book, The Unwilling, earlier this month. I put this one on hold at the library and it became available in time for me to finish out the month with 2 Hart books.
Johnny Merriman is a 13-year-boy whose life was torn apart a year ago when his sister was abducted (witnessed by his best friend) and then his father left. He's a very smart kid who has spent every spare minutes the last year searching for clues to find his sister. Meanwhile his mother has completely fallen apart and has ended up in an abusive relationship.
The Detective on the case, Clyde Hunt, is also haunted by Alyssa's disappearance and works the case night and day. He also keeps a close eye on Johnny and his mother.
You know how may books (John Sandford comes to mind) have the uber intelligent, risk-taking hero to pull the story together and eek out victory in the end? Then there are other books where every character continually makes illogical decisions that get them into more and more trouble? This isn't that kind of book. It's a very complex story with flawed characters just like real people. They make real life kinds of decisions and some of them become (unlikely) heroes.
I'll tell you how deeply I fell into this book. At one point I came into the den to tell Chris about an event in the book as if it was a real life news item. It also very much reminded me of the rural life in the small county where I grew up, although without abducted teenagers.
I read some of the reviews of this book on Audible and there were lots of complaints about the narrator but I enjoyed his reading. Maybe his accent is close to my own so I didn't find it bothersome at all. But if you are thinking about the audio version be sure to try a sample to hear the narration.
Annual Gradient Sale!
It's my favorite time of the year! Each year, shortly before vacation, I have a big Gradient sale. Last week I dyed a TON of ice dyed fabrics but they aren't quite ready for the shop yet so I'm moving the Gradient sale up a little. You won't mind that, will you? All Gradients are 20% off through July 4th. Just use coupon code GRADIENT20 at checkout. Keep an eye out next week for lots of new ice dyed Crystal Mandalas.
Need some inspiration? Check out these beautiful quilts, all made with Gradients. Gradients are great for backgrounds and elements of art quilts, sashing and other components of traditional quilts and are fabulous for fussy cutting applique elements.
Top Row (L to R): Becky Brown, Jane Sleeva, Jeannette Ringuette
Bottom Row: Patricia Caldwell, Rachel Derstine, Chery Bradley
This is your weekly reminder that my summer vacation is going to be a really long one this year so I want to give you notice now in case you need something dyed for your next project. We have plenty of time to get it done if we start planning now. I will be away August 6 - September 5 so the shop will basically be closed the entire month of August. If there's fabric that you need please get your orders in by the end of July. The cut off for custom dyed fabric will be July 26.
18 down, 2 to go
I brought 20 veterans quilt tops home from the last quilt club meeting and I set myself a goal of getting all of them done by Sunday. I wanted to commit to this group of quilts because I'm not going to take any more quilts in until September. I need to work on some of my own quilts for a while.
By last Thursday I had 8 of the 20 done.
Over the last 3 days I finished 10 more! They are all simply quilted but the tension is good and the thread colors were chosen to match the quilt tops. Most are ribbon meander but there's some wavy crosshatch, meandered leaves (on the brown quilts) and wavy lines.
I have 2 quilts left to do. These will be done on single backs. When I'm dyeing fabric for the quilt backs there's always a piece left on the bolt that's about 1 yard. I don't let that go to waste. I dye them, split them in half across the width and seam them together to make one new backing that's the perfect size for one veterans quilt. All of those batting strips are the excess width that I cut off while quilting. I will piece those together (using the fusible interfacing strips)to make a few pieces of "free" batting. Then I'll chop off the trimmings in the back for more dog beds. I want all of this done by tomorrow and then I'll be on to my projects again.
In between quilting sessions I was outside washing out the ice dyed fabrics. The last of them are hanging to dry today. It will take me all week to get all of this fabric ironed and photographed and loaded in the shop. Hopefully it will all be done by next Tuesday's newsletter.
Time to get back to quilting!
Customer Gems - Karen Dever
Quilt Appraiser Karen Dever participated in her guild challenge this year, Power of 3. The challenge was to make a quilt with only 3 elements. Her inspiration was a beach photo taken at Ocean City, NJ. She used the Blue Sky gradient for her sky.
For sharing, Karen 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.
Thursday was a long day
I started moving at 8am yesterday and I didn't sit down until about 6. It was a long day but a really, really good day.
First off, I did get 2 more veterans quilts quilted but I ran out of energy when it came to trimming and photographing them. You'll have to wait until Monday for that.
I started the morning washing out all of our ice dyed fabrics. It took about 2 and a half hours to rinse everything and put them in various soaking bins then the water was changed several times during the day. We are both thrilled with the results.
Here's one of the big quilt backs. I spread it out in the driveway to let it dry a bit before I carried it through the house and to the basement for soaking. The color isn't quite true. It's not turquoise, it's more of a sky blue but I and over the moon with this one. Actually I'm over the moon with all three quilt backs from this batch. This one will be in the shop soon.
Anne came over about 11 and she got started quilting her picnic quilt. It's a small quilt so it only took her a couple of hours. I had gotten it loaded and basted the night before so she was ready to jump in with quilting. She used the Happy Times panto. It's a great panto for beginners.
Look at this awesome backing fabric! isn't is perfect for a picnic quilt?
While she was quilting I got the great idea to do ANOTHER batch of ice dyeing today!
Total insanity. But, why not.
I've gotten a few question from yesterday's ice dyeing post so I'll answer them next week as I'm pondering a brief tutorial on how I do ice dyeing.....which is different from the way some other people do it. There are lots of right ways to ice dye. It's good to experiment.
The bins were all set up and ready to go by 5 pm yesterday and then I didn't do much of anything else after that except to look forward to crawling into bed.
Today won't be quite so strenuous. I won't be doing prep work and wash out on the same day. I might even have some quilting time today.
Aside from ironing and photographing fabric, my weekend will be devoted to veterans quilts. The race is on to get to 20!
Ice dyeing and quilting
Yesterday was a really good day. To start off the weather was spectacular. For Virginia it was cool (high 70's) and low humidity. It was a great day for ice dyeing because the sun was still hot on the dye bins but we weren't burning up. But I'll start the day backwards with the 2 quilts that I quilted last night. That's 8 for the week so far and I've identified the two that I plan to get done tonight.
My friend, Anne, came over to ice dye with me and she brought this picnic quilt to quilt. We got it basted yesterday and will get it quilted today. This fabric brings back great memories. We both bought packages of these beautiful sun printed fabrics the first year that we went to the Houston Quilt Festival. That was probably sometime around 2005. We both treated them as precious until we learned out to sun print ourselves. I finally made a quilt I called Autumn Leaves with mine in 2014 and gave it to the guy who cuts our yard. (Yes, mine is a yard, not a lawn. It doesn't receive enough care from us to be called a lawn. We live on a river so I don't use fertilizer. We have weeds that mostly look like grass right after mowing.) Anyway, Scooter got that quilt and loved it. Anne made this fun picnic quilt with her leftovers of the fabric. She's coming back over to quilt it today. Can you see the perfect backing fabric that she used?
The real purpose of our day was ice dyeing! I haven't done this in 2 years. I sort of enjoy doing it but it really is a huge waste of dye powder and it's a lot of physical work. But you can't argue with the wonderful and unique textures that you get from the process. We set up 8 bins/trays in the driveway and Chris brought us 150 lbs. of ice.
Half of the ice is put directly on the fabric and the we sprinkled the dye powders over the ice.
The rest of the ice is spread over the dye and I sprinkle more soda ash on top just for good measure. I have fabric in the bottom of every bin because I love the texture on those fabrics created from the dripping dye. My Antelope Canyon quilt is made from one of the "bin" fabrics. You can see the plastic collars that I set up to keep the ice from rolling off.
Here are the 8 bins at the end of the day. They stayed out all night and we will wash the fabrics out with a garden hose this morning. Unfolding the fabrics is the best part of the process. It's always a surprise!
Progress all around
It's been a busy couple of days and, aside from my weekly dyeing, I'm staying focused on quilting the veterans quilts.
First, I want to thank Lily for providing a nice counter to the propane bill in our mail this week. Isn't that a very cool card? Much better than a gas bill.
Here are the 2 newest veterans quilts. Ribbon meanders on both. Anne is coming over tomorrow to quickly quilt a little picnic quilt and then I'll load the next 2 veterans quilts.
I successfully finished my first loom knitted hat! It's not a masterpiece but it's really warm and will be a nice donation hat and I think this is going to suffice for a donation hat. This yarn is Loops and Treads Tweed Big from Michaels. It's bulky and soft and it was on sale for $3. There are at least 2 more hats in this ball and the second one is underway. That's $1/hat! I can crochet a couple of rows on the wheelchair lap blanket and the I have to take a break and do this for a bit. I'll work on a few hats and then I might try a scarf.
The rest of my day was spent getting fabrics ready for ice dyeing today! I haven't ice dyed in a couple of years so be on the lookout for more ice dyed mandalas in the shop soon. If you need me today I'll be out in the driveway making a big mess with 100 lbs. of ice.
Last week my dyeing inspiration came from the beautiful landscapes around me this summer. That always leads me to making more Reflections fabrics pulling colors from the scenery around me. These fabrics are great for landscape quilts but the stripy nature of the pattern also makes a great borders and sashing for traditional quilts. There are lots to choose from if these 4 don't really speak to you.
Reflections are sold by the yard and the stripes go across the width of the fabric.
My summer vacation is going to be a really long one this year so I want to give you notice now in case you need something dyed for your next project. We have plenty of time to get it done if we start planning now. I will be away August 6 - September 5 so the shop will basically be closed the entire month of August. If there's fabric that you need please get your orders in by the end of July. The cut off for custom dyed fabric will be July 26.
Fabric of the Week
Keeping with the water and sky theme, I've selected South Pacific as the fabric of the week. The blue-greens of this gradient are perfect to represent tropical waters. Gradients are also great for borders. The provide complex color transitions with very little work. South Pacific is 20% off through Sunday.
Quilts and crochet
It's official now, my longarm is well and truly fixed! The tension is perfect just like it used to be. No more thread breakage, no more shipped stitches and no more bobbin nests. Best of all I feel very confident that I can fix it myself alone going forward. I even feel like I could work on mu Juki straight stitch machine if I needed. My brother (the auto mechanic) has repaired a couple of sewing machine himself so we're probably going to service my Juki together at some point.
I immediately got busy tackling the stack of 20+ veterans quilt tops that I have here to be quilted. I've told the group that I'm not taking any more tops until September, after vacation. I'm going to quilt as many as I can this week and then I will not quilt any others until the fall. I've done 34 already this year and now it's time to work on some of my own quilts.
These 4 were made by 2 club members and are only 4 of the 10 that they made from the fabric that was donated to us from Benartex (to compensate for the quilt that was stolen.) These fabrics are so busy that it doesn't matter at all how I quilt them.
With the goal of speed and volume, most of the quilts getting quilted this week are getting wavy straight lines, ribbon meander, wavy cross hatch or some other type of continuous curves. All of those are fast and I can get 2 quilts loaded, basted and quilted in less than 3 hours. My goal is going to be to get 2 done every day this week through Saturday. On Sunday I'll load one of my own quilts.
On the crochet front I'm making progress on the corner-to-corner blanket. I haven't been a big fan of the c2c blankets but now I get the attraction. It's so fast and easy! I think this Cascade Cartwheel yarn is beautiful and it will make a very soft wheelchair lap blanket. Working with the bulky yarn seems to be more tolerable for my hand as well for the moment. I've devised a weighting method with the yarn so that I don't have to use my fingers for tensioning and that's working really well. I'm also taking lots of breaks. I like this yarn so much that when I saw that Webs had it on clearance I ordered a bunch more. It's 40% off right now and it was an additional 15% over the weekend but I think that part of the sale has ended. It seems like June is the big yarn clearance month.
I got the 4 quilts done before I left for Eli's birthday party Saturday. Mom and I had a great time watching the kids play on a giant inflatable water slide. It was a fun afternoon. After the party we stopped by Joann's. I've been researching loom knitting as a possible car project and project to do in the evenings when I need a crochet break. I picked a pack of looms and a $3 ball of bulky yarn and watched a bunch of You Tube videos. I think this is going to be a fine project to do when my left hand gets fatigued with crochet. This is mostly a right hand task and I can make hats and scarves to donate.
This week is going to be all about veterans quilts. I don't have any appointments or house projects so I should be able to get through the quilts and maybe even get some other, more interesting, sewing projects done.
Customer Gems - Patricia Caldwell
A few months ago I mis-dyed the On The Horizon gradient by putting one of the colors in the wrong position in the dyeing order. It was still a pretty gradient but it wasn't On The Horizon. I called it Not On the Horizon, put in in Clearance and it was sold out in no time. Patricia Caldwell is one of the people who grabbed a piece of it and this quilt is the beautiful result.
She said that she decided to not think and just cut and sew and cut and sew. She then cut those pieces into two circles and then did the same for the background. Adding the border and sashing with the same gradient. This entire piece is from one gradient!
For sharing, Patricia 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.