I can't believe that July is already over! I feel like I am very behind on everything but apparently I stayed up on my reading by finishing 11 books. There was lots of serious reading going on this month with Chain of Title, The Science of Energy, a medical book and American Kingpin. Two of those really read like good crime novels so I'd count them in both categories. In the non-fiction books I think the continuation of the Tracey Crosswhite series was probably my favorite.
What did you read this month that you would recommend? I seriously do look up all of your recommendations. I do have a 10 hour limit meaning that I don't buy books that are less than 10 hours. So sometimes I don't read them just for that reason. I know that seems a bit random but I like long hikes and I find that less than 10 hours is more of a romp. Regardless, leave your recommendations no matter the length or genre because other people like to read them too!
By T.E. Woods, Narrated by Christina Delany
The Fixer is Lydia. She is a clinical psychologist who had a horrible upbringing. Now she dispenses vigilante justice as a hired assassin with morals. But her latest hire is close to home and someone has figured out who she is and is using her to for all of his/her dirty work.
This is the first in the "Justice" series, a new series to me. I wasn't too sure about this one at the beginning. The author introduces the characters through a series of very choppy scenes that only hint at the characters and their motivations. It was a little difficult to track. But about a third of the way in I finally got the hang of it. It's an interesting story and reminds me a little of Karin Slaughter's books and writing style. I'll read more of them.
Chain of Title
By David Dayen, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
Do you like conspiracy books? If so you will love this one. The catch is that it's not a novel. Everything in this book actually happened and if you are a homeowner or contemplating buying a home, you need to read this book.
This is the story of the mortgage/foreclosure crisis that set off the 2008 recession. I admit, I fell into that group of people who had little sympathy for the millions of Americans being foreclosed on. Chris and I live quite financially conservatively. I remember when we were house shopping in 1996 and we figured out what we could afford and started looking for our first house. I called the bank to get pre-qualified and they qualified us for FOUR TIMES the amount the we felt we could afford. We knew then that something bad was going to happen in housing if that was happening to everyone. We could have never afforded the mortgage or the electricity bill for the size house the bank was willing to lend.
But I didn't know what was going on with title transfers, how the securitization process was really working and how the banks were going about foreclosure. I was familiar with securitization from working in the bank card division of a large bank but only superficially. I did not know the details.
Also, if you are into activism you need to read this too. Often we think of ourselves as activists if we create protest art, write protest opinion pieces or participate in a protest march. That's OK, but it's not real activism. In this book you will see the reality of what it takes to be an effective activist. It takes EVERYTHING and this book gives you the real picture of the lives of 3 activists who really made a difference for us while impacting their own lives is very serious ways. It will also tell you that no matter which politicians tell you they are on "your" side. They are not and it's never more clear than in this event.
by Anna Romer, narrated by Eloise Oxer
Ruby Cardel thinks her life is great but then she finds a black bra in her boyfriend's suit jacket pocket. The same evening at her mother's art opening she meets a woman who was a beloved neighbor when she was growing up at Lyrebird Hill. Three weeks later she accepts the offer to visit her childhood home where her sister died in a terrible accident.
While there her memory of the event slowly begins to return and she discovers so many things about her life that are lies.
Ruby discovers the ancient letters of Brenna Magavin. Brenna is writing from her cell where she is to be hanged for murder.
The book is about both of their lives and how they are connected through the generations. The letters, and being at Lyrebird Hill, help bring Ruby's memory back and it's put her own life in danger.
that all sounds pretty good. It sort of was. It really wasn't a mystery/thriller. It was more romance/mystery/Lifetime movie. I'd put this somewhere between Nora Roberts and Karen White. It was a fine story but it sure was slow and plodding. It didn't help that the narrator sounded like a breathless Nicole Kidman. That got tedious after a while.
I didn't hate the book but I sure didn't love it. There just wasn't enough "meat" to it. You knew after the first third exactly where it was going and it too a long time to get there.
Blood on the Tracks
by Barbara Nickless, narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
Sydney Rose Parnell is an Iraq war veteran and now a Special Agent with the railroad police. Her K-9 partner is also a war veteran. The story starts simply enough. A woman, who Sydney knows, is found brutally murdered. The main suspect is her fiance, known as the Burned Man. He is also a war veteran who is deeply scarred with internal and external wounds. He travels the railroads as a hobo. Sydney is called in to help track him down.
But the story isn't nearly that simple.
This is the first in a series and a debut novel by this author and it was surprisingly good. I really thought it was over about a third of the way through but that's when we started down a very windy road with a surprise ending. The only thing I didn't like about it is her name. Her "uncle" calls her "Sidney Rose" throughout and it starts to grate. Sidney would have been just fine.
In the reviews there are several complaints about the narrator but, honestly, I loved her and thought she did a great job.
The Science of Energy
by The Great Courses, Michael E Wysession
It's summer and that means that The Great Courses has a sale. I picked up 2 this summer . One on The Vikings that I simply cannot finish. I've determined that I'm really not interested in Vikings that aren't from Minnesota.
The second book was this one on the science of energy and there's a lot about this book to like. I read a lot on this topic and am very interested in it. If you are at all interested in energy production and economics you will enjoy this, if for nothing else, for the in-depth explanation of each type of energy and how it is produced. That's about half of the book.
The rest gets into relative costs, political factors and, eventually, his personal bias toward solar and wind. This lecture series was produced in 2015 and much of what he discusses on the political and economic sides of the topic is already outdated. For example, his projections about coal do not take into consideration the estimated 1600 new coal plants being built over the next decade, half in China. This is from the New York Times this week under a heading that touts the world's support for the Paris Climate Agreement. How 1600 coal fired plants (none of which will run as clean as ours) constitutes a climate commitment is beyond me. So if you read the book you need to consider the outdated nature of some of the economic and projection data.
Here's an example of his illogical bias. He discussed in detail the land destruction coal, while admitting that coal is the most energy rich resource of all energy resources. Then while talking about the expense of burning garbage for fuel he again talks about accepting the added expense for the gain of saving land from landfill. (Now, I know that if you take every landfill in the US and put it in one place it would be a blip in the state of New Mexico. I learned this in the book about garbage that I read a while back.) But then while talking about solar and vast amount of land needed to be dedicated to solar to power something equivalent to coal or nuclear (about the size of the whole state of New Mexico), he dismisses it by saying that we are simply going to have to make some tough decisions about land use. Let's be honest, environmentalists are never going to allow that kind of land abuse. We are already having trouble getting the transmission lines from solar and wind generating fields built because of environmental concerns. Additionally he never really talks about the fact that there isn't enough silver in the whole world for that quantity of solar panels.
In the end, I believe that his conclusions about where energy use and policy are headed are on target (it's a mix of everything and it will ultimately be economically based) but there are some important bits of analytical information left out of the discussion. More importantly, there's a wealth of information on every type of energy production that will help anyone filter the partial information that we are delivered via "the news" daily. It was a worthwhile listen.
By Michael Crichton, Narrated by MacLeod Andrews
I love the Audible Deal of the Day. Occasionally there's a dud but that's also the case with regular purchase books. Most often it's a good book that I would have missed otherwise.
When I saw this one I knew that I liked Michael Crichton (Airframe is one of my favorite books) and I had not read this one.
The story is set in 1994 which means that it's old enough that it could almost be one of my beloved period stories! I actually enjoyed reading this 25 years later and remembering how this story was pulled from the news at the time. Remember how, at that time, everyone thought that the Japanese were going to take down the US economy? They were buying a lot of US companies and it was a frequent narrative in news, editorials and politics. That is the underlying theme of this book but the basic storyline is timeless.
A young, beautiful woman is found dead in a conference room of a Japanese conglomerate right in the middle of a party that's being attended by celebrities, politicians and major business people. There are a lot of people with a lot of influence who want the whole incident to go away.
I liked the character development and the story moved along at a fast pace except when they had to stop to use a pay phone because they weren't anywhere near the car to use the car phone.
By William Landay, Narrated by Grover Gardner
Andy Barber has been the Assistant DA for 20 years and now he's investigating/prosecuting the murder of a local 14 year old boy, a classmate of his son, Jacob. He's removed from the case when Jacob is charged with the murder.
This is a courtroom drama. Most of the scenes are courtroom scenes and there are 2 cases going on. The first is Jacob's and the second, that's told interspersed with the first, is one where Andy is testifying. It was a little slow starting but once I was in I was hooked. Lots of twist and turns and a surprising ending.
Beat the heart Attack Gene
by Bale and Doneen, Narrated by Bob Souer
I have a primary care physician that I absolutely love. She's the best doctor that I've ever had and I was devastated when I found out that she left the practice for a concierge practice. After a lot of deliberation, hand wringing and angst, I decided to follow her to the new practice. Someone with my allergy issues needs a doctor she can trust to help work around them. I resigned myself to pay the concierge fee simply to have access to her.
Chris went with me to meet with her and get a tour of the new practice. I expected a fancy office with lots of superficial fluff. Surprisingly, we walked into a very normal-looking medical office without fancy beverages or other non-essential perks. What we found was a completely different medical practice that focuses on individualized preventative medicine. The fee actually pays for the most comprehensive physical I've ever seen. We were sent home with the assignment to read this book that explains one angle of the practice.
I included it in my reading list because I think some of my readers might find this book very helpful also, no matter where you get your medical treatment. A lot of data collected in your normal physical is explained in great detail in the book and there are a few tests (like genetic testing) that you can get on your own that will go a long way to explaining your own personal risk and best treatment practices.
I listened to it in audio but I think it would be much better in paper. But it is thorough and eye opening.
The Trapped Girl
by Robert Dugoni, Narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
This is the 4th in the Tracey Crosswhite series. Crosswhite is a Seattle murder detective and is on call to get a case of a dead woman found in a crab pot. (This is were I learned that West Coast crab pots are a lot bigger than East Coast crab pots!)
The woman is though to be a woman who went missing on Mt. Rainier months before.
Robert Dugoni writes a good mystery. Tracey and her partners are interesting characters with typical human flaws. The writing style reminds me a bit of the Harry Bosch novels. Now I have to wait patiently for book 5.
By Nick Bilton, Narrated by Will Damron
Holy cow, what a story and it's all true.
This is the story of Ross Ulbricht, a physics graduate who used his Libertarian beliefs to justify building the biggest online drug/weapons/body parts market in the world. It was called Silk Road and was on the "Dark Web". It's also the story of the people who spent 2 years hunting for him. This story is better than fiction and a lot scarier. At root it's about people. Good people and bad people. Even on the good side there are bad people.
Of course, we know that shutting him down didn't shut down the online drug market. We see it in the news every day. But if you like true crime you will absolutely love this book. You will learn about the dark corners of the web, about Bitcoin currency and about how accidental some criminal capture really is.
by Carl Hiaasen, narrated by John Rubenstein
After American Kingpin I needed something a little lighter and Razor Girl was just the ticket. Carl Hiaasen is one of the funniest writers that I follow. All of his books are set in Florida and feature a crazy array of creatures, tourists, criminals, corrupt government officials and a few sort-of normal people in a twisted tale.
This one is set in Key West where the Razor Girl and her co-hort work a very interesting scam involving a razor and a car accident. This wild story includes a mobster vacationing in Key West with his girlfriend, a shyster owner of a beach erosion company, the star of a reality TV show very much patterned after Duck Dynasty (but trashier), his #1 fan, Bister and a testosterone deodorant that has some unpleasant side effects.
This one is laugh-out-loud funny but don't get if if profanity bothers you.
It's time to check in and see what Patricia Caldwell has been creating! This is Arizona Dreaming and continues her exploration of her tree series. You can see some of the detail shots on her Facebook page. She's very generous in sharing the details of her work. She used the Beach Walk Gradient (below) as the base of this piece. If you are in Sedona, AZ this summer be sure to stop by Movin' On Gallery to see her work along with the beautiful photographs of her husband, photographer Bill Caldwell.
With FloMo on hiatus I was finally forced to do binding and here's my second finish for the month! This is the lap size Rainbow Quilt. I finished the king size version in May. This one is going to Alycia for Quilts of Valor in Colorado.
I quilted it with a quick and easy continuous curve design. This one will stay soft and cuddly as a QOV should be.
I love the back. This is based on the Abundance gradient and I used the purple edges of the backing fabric for the binding. It just needs the QOV label and it will be ready to go!
Now I'm back to "normal sized" quilts and can pair them up for faster quilting. Both of these quilts got a dark blue hand dyed backing. This pattern is a great use of scrap fabrics. I think it might have been made by Karen, our queen of scrap quilting. She works magic with a bin of scrap fabrics.
I love to quilt a ribbon meander on patriotic quilts.
This quilt is made with shirting scraps. It has some piecing challenges so I used a continuous curves motif to help ease in some fullness areas. You will see a patch of blue painters tape. I put that on for the piecer to point out a seam that needs repair before it's sent off for donation. See the white tag on the upper right edge? That's our new label tag so that after the binding is done (and the repair made) this one is ready to go. There's no label to sew on!
I was on a roll and decided to load the last pair that I have ready for quilting. I got almost halfway done on this one and the machine started making a loud noise and then stopped stitching.
The noise is coming from here. I think there's probably a thread wrapped in one of the joints but I can't get to it. I'm glad my dealer is only 18 miles away. I'll run it over when Greg, magical repair expert, is back in town.
This week has been really busy so far. I had dozens of fabric photos to edit and post Monday and yesterday I was working on getting things ready for a class I'm teaching this weekend. But I did get one veterans quilt quilted. This one is a little larger than most. I usually don't do ones that are bigger than 48 x 60 but this quilter supplied the backing fabric.
I quilted this one with an overall leaf meander. I have another set started and hope to get to them this evening.
This week the Fabric of the Week is a whole category! Galaxies are fabrics that are between 1.5 and 3 yards and they are all on sale 20% off through Thursday! Just use coupon code GALAXY20 at checkout.
There are also lots of new ice dyed Crystals this week! These are just 4 of them. See them all in the shop!
I'm sure someone guessed that my solution for the vintage embroidery would have been postcards! I am so pleased with the way the cards turned out and that I can now share Grandma Dove's embroidery with my Mom and brothers. Here's how I made them.
This is what I started with. The embroidery was done by my Grandmother in the early 1930's. It started life as a pillow cover and then it was framed for 20+ years. Last week it fell off the wall and the frame shattered. The linen is too fragile to invest in having the piece cleaned and re-framed. Mom and I agreed that we could toss it out and then I had this idea.
You can see in this photo how fragile the fabric is and that some of the embroidery is coming undone. I wasn't about to get involved in embroidery repair but I could stabilize it.
You know I love Mistyfuse and it came to the rescue once again. I like that it doesn't add any additional stiffness to the fabric so I can fuse with multiple layers. I thought the fabric was too close to sheer to fuse directly to the postcard interfacing so I first fused the whole embroidery piece to a piece of muslin and then I added a layer of Misty fuse to the muslin (for later fusing to the postcard interfacing.)
Then I played around with the postcard interfacing to see how I could cut them to maximize using the embroidery.
Here's what I came up with.
Where I had seams I decided not to stitch a seam but to butt the cut edges together. I stitched the edges down and then covered the seam with ric rac. You can see from the finished photos that I added ric rac to some of the other cards too.
For the back of the cards I stayed with the vintage theme and found this old sugar sack in my stash.
Here's the back of all of the cards. The print is light enough that black ink for addressing shows up just fine. I know that because Mom got her card with no problems.
Because of the fragile nature of the embroidery I broke my rule with these cards and will mail them in clear envelopes. This is the one I sent to Mom for her birthday.
The best part is that this is all that's left to be tossed out!
You know that I'm more of a traditional quilter than an art quilter. I love all of them but I admit to getting a little more excited when someone makes a traditional quilt from hand dyed fabrics.
This one comes from Katie Lewis. She made it with 1/2 yard Shades Packs in Purple and Red Purple. Katie is a very prolific quilter and is a master scrap quilter. You can see more of her work on her active blog.
Have you made a quilt or other project with Colorways hand dyed fabric? If so, please consider sharing it in the Customer Gallery. As thanks you will receive a 3 month 20% coupon code!
This is the quilt that the Misty Morning gradient was designed for. You can read all about it in my 2017 gallery.
Here's another of the back with the color better.
It's washed and dried now and all that's left is the Zentangle label.
I'm just checking in for a quick post today to share an applique update. I've gotten started on the second border. I like to start them in the center so I can get that center dot in place. I've got a special fondness for the center dot for some reason. But that's not the headline.
The headline is that I'm 27% done! I'm over 1/4 done with the borders! I think that if football season is good that I might get all 4 borders stitched before the Super Bowl.
Tomorrow I finally have a finish to share!
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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.