I read 12 books this month and rejected 3 others. All in all, it wasn't my favorite month of reading. While I didn't actually hate any of the books I finished I can't see any of them making it into my top 10 for the year. The most creative story to me was The Lightkeeper's Daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know those characters. I also enjoyed finishing off the CJ Box Highway Quartet which has turned into a completely different series.
There are a couple of unique history books here that feature moments in history that I wasn't taught in school.
My least favorite book was the disorganized Come Fly With Me. It wasn't awful but I didn't think it was particularly cohesive or well organized.
My listening time for July was 114 hours and 51 minutes. Year to date that's 843 hours and 26 minutes.
I found a couple of new and interesting podcasts this month:
Disgraceland will be interesting to anyone who loves music. It tells some of the backstories of different music artists. Recent episodes feature Britney Spears, George Harrison and The Temptations
This Is Love is your place to find a good positive story. It's produced by the same people who produce Criminal, one of my favorite true crime podcasts. A recent episode of TIL profiled a 4th grader in North Carolina who recently won enough competitions to send him to the National Spelling Bee.
Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich - I think this is probably a really important book about living in Russia during and after Communism but I just couldn't handle the choppy format. It's like riding the subway and listening to snatches of conversation and just randomly recording them in a book.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead - I could tell very quickly that I was not going to like the contemporary character. A quick perusal of Goodreads reviews confirmed my suspicion so I cut my losses.
The Future is History by Masha Gressen - It's about the return of totalitarianism to Russia. I will read this in book form because AUTHORS SHOULD NOT NARRATE THEIR OWN BOOKS!
Defenders of the Faith (888)
By James Reston, Read By Jim Meskimen
You have to like history to enjoy this book but if you do love history I think you will really enjoy this one. It covers a period of history that we didn't really cover in my high school history classes. In college I avoided history classes like the plague. I'm still catching up through my personal reading.
This book covers the years between 1520 and 1536. At this time the Catholic church was in crisis from a series of weak popes and the rise of protestantism and Lutheranism. Charles V was considered the defender of the Christian faith and Suleyman was considered the defender of Islam. This book chronicles the wars that led from Hungary to Rhodes to Vienna. Had they won many people thought Europe would have become Muslim.
It's very interesting but it doesn't read like a novel. But if you are into history you will enjoy this. Reston also wrote a very good book about Galileo that I read a few years ago.
By C.J. Box, read By January LaVoy
This is the third in a series. In some lists the series is called The HIghway Quartet, in others it's the Cody Hoyt/Cassie Dewell series and now it's called the Cassie Dewell series because Box unceremoniously dropped his main character in the last book.
Cassie has moved to Grimsted, North Dakota to be the new Deputy Sheriff in an office of all men. No one has time for jealousy and resentment because there's a murder to investigate. Grimsted is at the center of the shale oil boom.Men outnumber women about 20 to 1, there's a housing shortage and the workers are making a lot of money. It's a perfect storm for the drug business and there's competition and corruption to go along with it.
A young boy, Kyle Westergaard, is considered "slow" as he suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. But mostly he just doesn't talk. He delivers papers to make a little extra money and is a witness to the even that sets off the story.
Cassie is also still chasing the Lizard King from the previous 2 books but that's just a little side story to this one.
A Dedicated Man (482)
By Peter Robinson, Read By James Langton
This is #2 in the Inspector Banks series. Set in Yorkshire, England.
Harry Steadman is a wealthy, retired professor who is totally dedicated to industrial archeology, specifically the Roman history of the local area. One day a local farmer finds his body while out tending his sheep.
The book is about the investigation into Steadman's death and it's a generally good who-done-it novel. There are 27 books in this series so far and this one was first published in 1988 so the technology is old but I didn't mind that at all. It was a little short for my taste so I felt that some of the storyline was rushed but all-in-all I was thoroughly entertained.
The Lost Summers of Newport (788)
by Beatrix Williams, Mauren Willig and Karen White
Read by a cast
If you like Hallmark movies you will absolutely enjoy this book.
It's setting is a crumbling mansion in Newport during 3 different time periods. In 2019 Andie thinks she has found her dream job as a host of a mansion reno show. In 1899 Ellen has been hired to give singing lessons to a mining heiress in preparation for her arranged marriage to an Italian Prince in need of money. In Lucia is living with her Grandmother, the Princess, while her husband and father-in-law drain all of the assets that she brought into her marriage.
It was a fine book for what it was but wasn't the historical fiction that I expected.
Memento Mori (640)
By Ruth Downie, read by Simon Vance
This is the 8th installment in the Roman Empire series and I feel that these books do need to be read in order.
The main characters in the series is Gaius Petrius Ruso, a former Army medicus and his wife TIlla, a former British slave.
In this book, they are called to Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath), to assist Ruso's best friend Valens. Valens' wife has been found dead in one of the famous healing baths. Valens is accused and the scandal threatens to ruin the reputation ( and business) of the baths.
Downie's books seem to be full of historic detail and are true to the culture of the time. There's no apologies about slavery (mostly white people) or anything else that was commonplace in that time, including bad medical practices and sacrificing to Gods. She adds lots of wit and humor to the stories as well. I find them a refreshing change of pace for a mystery novel.
The Chill of the Night (638)
By James Hayman, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is the second book in the McCabe and Savage series. This is where having 3 different audio libraries can mess you up. After finishing this book in Chrip I realized that I had book 1 in Audible so I'll go back and read that one before the month is out.
The series is set in Portland, Maine and this book is in the dead of winter. Lainie Goff is a young attorney hoping for a partnership in the firm soon. That hope is cut short when her dead and mutilated body is found in the trunk of her BMW on a local fishing pier.
There are several good suspects and the search is fast paced. But the best witness is a mentally ill young woman who no one believes. I enjoyed it.
The Last Emperor of Mexico (714)
By Edward Shawcross, Read By Gustavo Rex
History buffs will enjoy this book. It's the story of the one and only Emperor of Mexico, Emperor Maximillian. This takes place at the same time as the American Civil War. It seems that America's distraction with their own Civil War inspired a lot of foreign meddling in our neighbor to the South.
It was clear that this attempt to install an Emperor was doomed from the beginning. The story reminds me of Russia's and the US' attempt to change Afghanistan. The whole episode was kind of crazy but really interesting.
Come Fly The World (452)
By Julia Cooke, Read By Andi Arndt
If you judge this book by the cover you would expect sort of a Mad Men take of flight attendant escapades in the 60's and 70's, right? You would be wrong. I'm not really sure what this book is.
It might be a history of airlines in that era, it might be about the involvement of commercial airlines in the Vietnam War, it might be a memoir of certain flight attendants or it might be about women's struggles for equality. What it ended up being is a little of each and a whole lot disjointed. In none of the areas did the book go into enough depth to provide any information above what you would have coming into the book.
If it had been longer than 7+ hours I would have not finished it. I just didn't feel it was particularly well written.
Paradise Valley (606)
By C.J. Box, Read by Christine Delaine
This is the 4th book in the Highway Quartet/Cassie Dewell series. I read book 3 earlier this month and decided to finish off the series.
It's 3 years since the previous book and Cassie has been focused on luring the Lizard King to North Dakota where she can finally catch him. The plan is a complete disaster and Cassie loses her job.
Meanwhile, Kyle Westergarrd, a young boy from the previous book, has disappeared with a friend. They are off on a river adventure that they have had planned for many years. Kyle's grandmother asks Cassie to search for Kyle.
When I started this series it was called Highway Quartet but I suppose it was successful because now it's the Cassie Dewell series and there are 5 books with another coming out in September. It's a good series but I don't like it as much as Joe Pickett. The 4th book does end the Lizard King storyline and the next books seem to have Cassie as a private investigator. I'll probably continue the series eventually.
The Lightkeeper's Daughter (554)
By Jean E. Pendziwol, Read By a cast
This was a little different book for me and I enjoyed the ride.
Elizabeth lives in a senior home and has lost her vision. She can no longer read her beloved books or study art. Her father was a lightkeeper on Lake Superior and his missing personal journals have recently been found, but she can no longer read them.
Morgan is a troubled teen with a talent for the violin. She recently tagged a fence at the senior home and is "sentenced" to volunteer there to repair the fence. She meets Elizabeth and offers to read the diaries for her.Through the diary they come to realize that their lives are connected.
It's totally unbelievable but by the end you love the characters and wish it were true.
Man of My Time (714)
By Dalia Sofer, Read by Navid Navid
Hamid Mozaffarian travels from Iran to New York to see his estranged family. His father had died and specifically asked to be buried in Iran. They can't transport the body so they have had him cremated and are giving Hamid a tin of ashes to return to Iran.
This trip sets off a deep analysis of his life, the decisions he's made and the consequences of those decisions.
What's good about this book is that it's set during the Iranian revolution. While "life on review" books are reasonable common, it's rare to get one set in a country and time that's unique to the Western reader.
What's not as good about this book is that the narration is a bit flat and the book doesn't seem to have an order. I expected flashbacks in time but they were all over the place. In the end it was not bad but I was glad it was over.
The Younger Wife (558)
By Sally Hepworth, Read by a cast
I learned a new book genre tag while reading this book: Domestic Suspense. It's a good categorization of this book.
Stephen Aston is divorcing his wife to marry a new, and much younger one. His first wife, Pam, is in nursing care with dementia. The new wife, Heather, is the same age as Rachel, Stephen's youngest daughter. Rachel and Tully, the other sister, have theri own issues. The whole even seems to have cracked open a box of family secrets that will come to light between the engagement and wedding.
This is the second Helworth novel that I've read and I enjoy them. This one is fast paced without excessive dramatics.
It took almost a week but Mom finally received her birthday card and I can finally share them on the blog. I say "them" because I can rarely make just one.
A lot of times my postcard ideas start with a fabric that I want to use rather than a design idea. That was the case this time. I have a nice stash of metallic painted fabrics that I made a couple of year ago. I wanted to use my metallic paints before they all dried up so I made a couple dozen fat quarters of fabrics all painted with various metallic paints. I used one recently for my cousin's cutlery case (which she loved). That's what prompted me to use another for Mom's birthday card design.
I chose this blue one that looked watery and decided to stick a fish on it in some way. I pulled out a bunch of pre-fused scraps of fabric that I might be able to use for seaweed or fish.
Before assembly I did free-form cut a bunch of seaweed and fish shapes to figure out my basic design and then I had to figure out a construction order. I started with some seaweed on the right. I got it stitched down and then fused my fish in place.
Next I added some seaweed on the right but I was not happy. It needed something else. I have no idea what these round things are but they seemed to work to finish off the design.
A little dot of paint for the eye finished them off. I made 7 all together so I have enough to send then to 2 of my brother's at the end of August and a few extras for upcoming birthdays.
I really like the hand dyed fabric effects on the little fish bodies. All of them were cut from one piece of fabric that was leftover from the backing of the Summer Sunset quilt.
I quilted and cobbled
My big accomplishment of the past 2 days was getting Groovy 3 quilted. It took 8 long passes and I only had one thread break. Now I just need to trim it and get it bound and I can take in on vacation. The fabric for the binding is soaking but I will be able to cut and bind Monday.
While Groovy 3 was the biggest accomplishment, my proudest accomplishment is that I did a little cobbling in the old fashioned sense of the word.
These are my favorite sandals. I've had them several years and, because of last year's foot injury, I didn't get to wear them at all. Now I can wear them and the last time I did the strap broke on both shoes in the same place. (See the red arrow.)
I could take them to have them properly repaired by a real cobbler but I wouldn't get them back before vacation so I decided to see if I could fix them myself.
First I got some old sandals and some upholstery thread and experiment to see if my Juki machine would sew through them. It worked brilliantly with a Jeans size 16 needle.
Next I was off to Hobby Lobby for a $4.50 spool of dark upholstery thread and in 15 minutes I had them sewn back together. It's not a perfect match but no one will notice.
You can see on the inside how the original seam failed. Hopefully the triangle stitching will be strong enough to hold it for another year or 2.
Mom finally got her birthday card yesterday so I'll have that to share with you tomorrow and then we will head to the river for the weekend.
Crochet project update
I introduced my newest crochet projects last week and I have been making some good progress on them. If you are interested in knowing any of the patterns go back to last week's post where I have then all listed.
This project seems to be moving along fast but that's always the case with granny square projects. But this is a very easy pattern that doesn't require too much attention so it's pretty speedy. I like how this yarn is looking.
In this photo it looks really square and flat but it's a little wavy so I will probably need to block it. I think there will be three rounds of hearts and maybe a few solid HDC border rows.
This is the progress on Tim's blanket. The yellow marker is where I was last week. I'm closing in on the second of 7 skeins of yarn. This one will be going on vacation with me for sure. I think the baby blanket might actually get done before I leave.
I'm really enjoying working on the Mimosa Spring. The red marker on the left is where I was last week. It's going a lot faster than that tshirt top did. I think crochet garments need to be made with more open stitches patterns to avoid boredom. This pattern is really clever because it's worked all together without much seaming. I started at the shoulder and worked the back yoke and then went back to the shoulder to work the 2 front yokes. Once the right yoke is done I'll start working front and back together to join them and work to the hem.
So far so good on all of the projects. Switching projects every day is making such a difference for my hands. I will continue to do this for all of my future projects.
Annual Gradient Sale!!
It's my favorite time of year, getting ready for vacation and the annual Gradient sale!
Reminder: There will be no orders shipped between August 4 and September 5. Regular business will resume in September.
It's time for the
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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.