Even a mediocre book is better than no book and that point is proven over and over in September. You are about to read a lot of negative. It just wasn't my best month for picking books. I think that's because most of this month's selections came from the library. When I buy books from Audible I try to make sure that it's a book that I will love, after all I'm paying for it. I allow myself more risks in book selection from the library because they are "free". A couple were to try out new authors and now I know that these authors aren't my cup of tea and that's OK. Only one book was bad enough to just stop reading but a couple of others I did speed up to get them over with!
All that said, the month ended on a really good note with Johnny Cash, Boys Life and Flash Boys.
What books do you have to recommend to the rest of us this month?
An Elegant Defense
By Matt Richtel, Narrated By Fred Sanders
Being an allergic person, I'm fascinated by the workings of the immune system so I was looking forward to this book. It's about the current science around the immune system and is told through 4 patients: someone who has natural immunity against HIV/AIDS, someone with rheumatoid arthritis, someone with lymphoma and someone with lupus. the primary "character" is Jason, his childhood friend. Jason has recurring lymphoma.
Some diseases are a result of something overpowering or taking control of our immune systems and some diseases are a result of our immune systems overacting.
The book was rather choppy jumping from person to person and there was way too much content about Jason and his life. The truth is that there's tons of immune system research going on right now but not a lot of really new discoveries. Many of the current treatments are designed to turn the immune system off and that brings a whole other set of risks. I didn't really take away a lot of insights.
The Couple Next Door
By Shari Lapena, Narrated By Kristen Potter
Anne and Marco Conti seem to be a happy young couple. One night the neighbors invite them next door for a celebration dinner but the baby is not invited. (Clue 1) They leave the baby home and take the baby monitor with them. They check on the baby every half hour but when come home baby Cora is gone. There is a detective and "investigation" but that part is really superficial and the twists and turns of the story unfold.
I was really underwhelmed with this book. Mediocre writing, unlikable stereotypical characters and overloaded plot twists. It's kind of a bad version of Gone Girl.
By Andrews and Wilson, Narrated By Ray Porter
This is the 3rd in the Tier One series. It's "clandestine operations" genre thriller. John Dempsey and his secret anti terror unit, Ember, is mobilized after an attack on American and Israeli cabinet officials are attacked on US soil. No surprise that it's the nemesis that they missed in the last book. You do have to read these books in order.
This time Dempsey is working with his counterparts in Moussad and headed undercover into Iran. Lots of fast paced action. All 3 of the first books in this series are anti-Islamic-terrorist focused. The book ends with a hint that the series is moving to thwart Communist attacks next.
One of the things that I like about this series is that with each book there is character development. People come in and out of the story, characters develop and roles change.
By David McCullough, Narrated By John Bedford Lloyd
I love McCullough's books. Some of my favorites are The Great Bridge, The Wright Brothers and The Johnstown Flood. I will generally read anything he's written and was excited about this new one.
The Pioneers is billed as a story about the pioneers of the Northwest Territory. It's really about the settling of one town that is Marietta, Ohio today.
Over vacation Chris and our friend, Ian, read it. It turns out that we all stopped at about the same point (2/3 through). It's surprisingly tedious. It's as if he had some leftover notes from other books and thought that he might compile them all into one new book. There are many better book about the settling of the Midwest.
The Lost Girls of Paris
By Pam Jenoff, Narrated By Elizabeth Knoweldon, Henrietta Meire and Candace Thaxton
I love historical fiction and usually really love historical fiction about the WWII era. This one is about a group if female British radio operators agents sent to France shortly before D-Day. All I can say is that if Britain had agents so poorly trained and poorly disciplined in the real war we would all be speaking German now.
The book as an added element tied to an American woman, Grace, in NYC who finds photos of the women and inexplicably sets out to learn about them.
There are so many problems with this tale starting with the whole Grace storyline. It makes no sense to have it included and the character is about as hapless as the agents. Her narrator, Candace Thaxton, perormed one of most annoying narrations that I've ever read. She should be reading young adult and children's books with her sappy sing-song voice.
The agents, called "the girls" and "my girls" so often that it became incredibly annoying. No one that every worked with them ever called them "agents" or "women"? I don't think so. The primary agent, Marie, moved haphazardly though the story completely ignoring her training or directions and advice from in-country agents. Every time she was warned not to do something she did it anyway.
Start to finish, this book was annoying. Had I read the Audible reviews before getting the book from the library I would have never read it.
Johnny Cash: The Life
By Robert Hilburn, Narrated By Charles Pittard
First off, I'm not much of a Country music fan and have never been a Johnny Cash fan. I read this book because I read the biography of Sam Phillips and discovered that it was Phillips who discovered Cash along with Elvis, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. I had gotten a bit of information about Cash in that book and I though this one might be interesting. I was not disappointed.
This is an incredibly in-depth look at life of a music visionary who was also a deeply flawed human being. All of it is presented honestly by someone who clearly knew Johnny Cash well but also respected him for what he brought to the world of music.
It was fun to read sections of the book and then head to YouTube to find the video or music tracks to go along with the stories. His drug use and relentless need to always work really destroyed his body. Had he made better decisions he might still be alive today but when you read this book you realize that he lived about 7 normal lifetimes in his one. If you like biographies and like music I think you will love this book.
By Robert McCammon, Narrated By George Newbern
I picked up this book because it's by one of my favorite mystery authors. He writes the Matthew Corbett series. This book was written in 1991 so it's old enough to be classic" now. It deserves that category.
The story is about a boy named Cory Mackenson is 11 years old and growing up in Zephyr, AL in the 1960's. It's a pretty idyllic place for a young boy to grow up. His father delivers milk and one morning Cory is with him on a delivery when they witness a car plunging into a very deep lake. There's a dead man tied to the steering wheel. They know that once the car sinks that it will never be found again. When now one is ever reported missing the case has to remain unsolved.
This event begins the process of leaving childhood behind and recognizing (and experiencing) all of the elements of life from pure evil to people with seemingly mystical powers. It is a beautifully written book and I'd think that it would be a great one for a family to read together because there's a lot to think and talk about with the variety of characters and situations that occur.
Call The Midwife
By Jennifer Worth, Narrated By Nicola Barbor
This book kept showing up on my Audible recommended list. I wasn't sure I would like it but found it at the library and decided it was worth the risk (free). I'm so glad I didn't pay for it! It gets rave reviews and I understand why. If you are into childbirth (I'm not) and are curious about what it was like in the 1950's in the poor parts of London then you will be fascinated.
It's really a collection of essay or short-stories. It's not a continuing story. It kind of reminds me to the way that Joe Kenda presents murder cases on the ID channel.
The two things that annoyed me are 1) the author couldn't seem to decide if she was telling the story of a fully qualified and confident midwife or the story of an unbelievably innocent young girl and 2) the narrator! The narrator tried to turn this into some sort of drama with nearly whispered scenes all told in the voice of an English teenager. She drove me batty. I'm pretty sure now that I will not be the least interested in the series. My Mom was a nurse, I saw all I needed of that world growing up. But if you are thinking that you might listen to it please go to Audible first and listen to a sample to see if you can tolerate the narrators voice.
By Michael Lewis, Narrated By Dylan Baker
Michael Lewis writes a lot of really interesting non-fiction. Two of his books, Blind Side and Moneyball, were made into movies. This one explores the dark underbelly of a part of the financial transaction systems of wall street.
When you place a stock trade order it looks simple. You issue a buy order and someone else is willing to sell you that stock for the market price. Simple, right? Of course not!
There's an entire system behind those trades that operates on speed. That speed allows them to get to a transaction is milliseconds faster than another trader. This dark and secretive world makes hundredths of pennies by getting to that trade first. You don't notice it but given the volume of daily trading those bits of pennies add up to millions of dollars in profits without having any risk associated with stock ownership.
A small group of Wall Street traders figured this out and created an exchange where this kind of activity can't take place.
Michael Lewis does a great job of taking esoteric topics and making them interesting for the rest of us. You've got to be interested in this type of thing to get into this book. I really enjoyed it.
This week's featured project comes from Patricia Caldwell. Her piece is based on a photo that her husband, Bill Caldwell, took of Vitamin C under a microscope. She used Black and a purple Stars for the background and Sundance and Southwest Gradients for the elements.
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.
It's football season so there's lots of TV time. In the past week or so I've finished 4 more moons! If my count is right I now have 53 done and 19 left to do. I'm going to have to start thinking about a new hand sewing project very soon!
I don't really have a favorite in this group but I bet that when the quilt is done that this particular moon will really stand out.
This weekend I want to get the labels done for the Paula quilts and start another one of my UFO clean-out projects.
I didn't do any sewing yesterday. I had my physical in the morning and met up with some friends for lunch followed up with errands and then a very lazy evening. But Tuesday I got started on the second sun print veterans quilt. First I needed more fabric and I found this pretty brown in my stash.
Here's the top half already sewn together!
Fabric of the Week
Barrier Island Gradient is the fabric of the week this week. It's 20% off through Sunday. Leslie McNeil made her floral collage Sun Blossom Pony using Barrier Island as the background. You can see more of Leslie's work on her website. Click on the pony to get the pattern for this cute quilt.
Barrier Island is on sale through Sunday. It coordinates with Tidal Pool and Sunset Shades Packs.
Gradients back in stock
This week Groundhog Day and Pueblo gradients are back in stock! Check out the featured art quilts made using these gradients.
I made major progress on the "Paula" quilts this weekend. I got both quilted (maybe) and got the cats bound and the hanging sleeve sewn on. All I have left on that one is the label. I quilted the blue one too but I'm considering doing a little more quilting on it. I had a heck of a time with it. The best thread choice was a navy blue Bottom Line thread. I decided to use it in the needle and bobbin and it was nothing but trouble. I changed needles, re-threaded, played with tension.....everything. I finally got through the 9 9-patch center blocks. I switched to Invisifil for the borders and didn't have any problems at all. I've had issues quilting with Bottom Line in the needle before and hopefully I will remember not to try it again.
In other news I got the first vetnerans quilt top done! For something made completely random and really fast, I'm quite pleased. It will be quilted with a leaf pantograph probably in green or brown thread because I want the quilting to really show up on these quilts. The quilt is what will make it seem more "whole" if that makes sense. I think I'll dye some dark green for the binding.
For the second one I do need to cut some more strips and I'll get on that today.
There wasn't much accomplished yesterday at all. It was errand day. Mom and I had our monthly lunch with my cousin and did some shopping. Then we took a detour to check out a salvage grocery store that my friend has been raving about. I had never heard of a salvage grocery store but it's a cool concept. They get damaged goods and ungraded produce (the ugly but still good stuff) and sell it heavily discounted. It was an interesting field trip but it's too far of a drive for me to make to just to see what's there. My diet is so restricted that going to a store like that might only yield a couple of purchases. The only thing I might have bought yesterday was carrots. But it was cool to see the place very busy on a Thursday afternoon. Do you have one of these type stores near you?
I'll just stick with Wegmans and Kroger for my "special" foods. I used to have to go to Whole Foods (which I hate) so was thrilled when Wegmans moved to town. I'm pretty sure that the Richmond area has more grocery stores per capita than other place in the US. There seems to be a big grocery store on every block. (After typing that last sentence I asked Google and, as of 2015, I was right. We rank 3rd in the nation. We've added Publix, Aldi, Lidl and Wegmans since then.)
Anyway.......Today I will start quilting the "Paula" quilts. I want to have both quilted by tomorrow so that I can get them ready for hand stitching the binding during Sunday football. But I'll quilt this baby quilt that Mom made first. The printed fabric is kites so I think I will quilt loops and kites freemotion. I got it loaded last night so I should have it done in a couple of hours.
By the time I went to bed last night I had finished the second "Paula" quilt top and also made the back (pieced from leftover fabric), binding and sleeve. I will be quilting starting tonight or tomorrow!
I also got 2 sections of the UFO veterans quilt done. These wen't together really fast and I think I'm going to like it a lot!
I'm glad I looked through my UFO projects again last month to see if I could find some easy things to work on while I"m making the "Paula" quilts. On that front the cat quilt top is together and I have the back, binding and hanging sleeve all done. I have made the blocks for the blue quilt so that's coming along too. I hope to be ready to quilt both this weekend. I have an idea for a third one but want to make sure to get these two done and ready first.
Meanwhile I've decided to tackle this pile of sun prints. I've been pondering these for a couple of weeks and I've settled on turning them into 2 veterans quilts. Each quilt will have 6 sun printed blocks.
I know that sun printed fabric can fade so I ran the blocks through a gentle wash to make sure they will not fade too much. Here they are after washing and they actually look better with the fabrics that I set aside to go with them.
I could have designed a quilt in EQ but graph paper was actually faster in this case. I followed the basic steps that I used for my Keepsakes Quilt pattern. I settled on a 3" grid so designed it using blocks that are on 3" increments and using 3" strips around the blocks. The blocks worked out basically to be 9 x 9 or 9 x 18.
I had set aside 4 Shades Packs to go with these blocks and I cut all of them into 3.5" strips. I have 4 shades in each of the 4 colors. I don't know if that's going to be enough for 2 quilts or not. I'll get one done and if I need more fabric I'll pull some from my stash for the second quilt.
Sure. This is going to work just fine.
Some of my sun prints aren't quite big enough to cut 9.5" squares so I took some of the waste fabric from my strips and sewed them onto these blocks to get the size I needed. I know, I could have just added one big strip but I think I'm already short of fabric so I chose to use my leftover bits instead.
Now I'll start sewing. I should be able to make pretty quick progress just sewing a few minutes every day. I love that I have 2 sewing machines. I have the Paula projects working on the Brother and this project working on the Juki. I can easily put time in on both every day.
Fabric of the Week
The fabric of the week is the Blacks Shades Pack. There are 8 steps to black so there's 2 yards of fabric in the fat quarter set. Need a little more? It's also available in half yard cuts. The sale is limited to fabric in stock so get yours before it's gone! Sale ends Sunday.
So Many New Stars!
Stars are one yard cuts of one-of-a-kind colors. These are the fabrics that I play on creating new color combinations. I've added OVER 20 Stars this week! There are about 50 in stock now. Maybe there's one in just the color that you need for your next project.
Custom Color Matching
Did you know that I provide custom color matching service? You can send me fabric samples or even paint chips and I'll send you photos of the fabrics that I think work best. No need to buy fabrics hoping or a match. Let me do the work so that you get the best possible match! Just contact me if you would like to use the custom color matching service.
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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.