I write these reviews as I finish each book so that at the end of the month it's easy to finish off the post. This month I discovered a bunch of new podcasts that I'm listening too. (I will not tell you what they are because several are political in nature.) I only mention it because I thought it was really cutting into my book time. Now that I look over the month I was apparently wrong. 12 books is actually pretty normal for me. Aside from The Weight of Night and When Christ and His Saints Slept, this was a good month. I was a little disappointed with Squeeze Me but I liked everything else.
What are your favorite books from October?
By Carl Hiaasen, Read By Scott Brick
It's been a long time since we have had a new book from Hiaasen so I was really excited to get my ear on this new one. The library hold for this one was months!
For those of you squeamish about snakes like me, I will warn you that the friendly python plays a prominent role in this tale. For those of you who are fatigued by novels blatantly portraying a Trumpian presidential character, you won't enjoy this. In my opinion writers have become incredibly lazy at presidential character development. It wasn't absolutely horrible in this particular book but it's there. I believe that books use that easy path will find that their books don't age well. I'm reminded of Vince Flynn/Kyle Mills who actually create characters so that they aren't too tied to current events. I prefer to escape from current events with my novels.
It's pretty typical Hiaasen but it's far from my favorite. But a bad Hiaasen is better than the best from some other authors! I don't love Scott Brick as the narrator. He's too serious of a reader to be given a humor book. George Wilson was a much better reader for Hiaasen's books.
The Lady of the Rivers
By Philippa Gregory, Read By Bianca Amato
This is a prequel to book I read a few months ago, The White Queen. This one ends exactly where that one starts but reading them out of order is no problem. Each is a full self-contained story. If you like historical fiction I think you will enjoy Gregory's novels.
The story is told by Jaquetta, a descendant of Melusina, the river goddess. As such, she can sometimes have visions of things to come. The story revolves around the court of King Henry VI. Jaquetta is a central figure in the court from her early marriage to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France.
The Weight of Night
By Christine Carbo, Read by RC Bray and Sarah Mollo-Christensen
Oh boy is this book horrible. I did finish it because I was in the middle of some projects and didn't want to stop to book shop and I wanted to see how it ended. I had read 2 other books in the Glacier series. I liked one and didn't like the other. Now I'm officially done with the series.
There's a huge forest fire and a fire crew unearths a shallow grave while clearing a fire break. Meanwhile another child has gone missing. Monty Harris is a park police officer and Gretchen Larsen is the lead CSI. Both of them have bad things in their pasts that we get to hear about each time there's a scene related to the missing child. There's a formula:
Gretchen in the present finding a clue
Gretchen in the past
Monty in the present following clues
Monty in the past
Rinse and repeat
Gretchen is from Sweden and, given her past, I'm pretty sure she would have never made it through immigration in the real world. So the initial set up bothers me. But the worst part about the book is the female narrator. Sometimes her accent sounds a little Swedish, sometimes Russian, sometimes Mexican and sometimes American. It's a hot mess. She's so bad that I had to look her up. She brags on her resume about her mastery of dialects. Hilarious.
I really like the premise of the main plot and I like how it played out but the forced insertion of each of their past lives made the story annoying. The narrator's voice made it all but intolerable.
Objects of My Affection
By Jill Smolinski, Read By Xe Sands
Lucy Bloom, thanks to her drug addict son's need for rehab, is broke and unemployed and she's determined to start over. She's written a book called Things are Not People, about decluttering. It doesn't sell well but it's enough of a credential to get her a job helping to de-clutter the home of an eccentric painter, Marva Meier Rios.
Marva seems to love ever object that she's acquired during her long life and Lucy has underestimated the challenge of getting her to let go of anything. Meanwhile an ex-boyfriend is back on the scene and her son's rehab isn't going well. It's a coming of age story for every character.
Lots of humor, secrets and tense relationships. I enjoyed it.
When Christ and his Saints Slept
By Sharon Kay Penman, Read By Anne Flosnim
I should love this book. It's historical fiction set around a King of England, two of my favorite things.
It's the first in the Plantagenet Series and tells the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
It might be good but the reader made it incredibly boring. I couldn't finish it.
By CJ Box, Read By David Chandler
After that last disaster book I needed something reliable so I returned to Joe Pickett. This is #19 in the series. Joe has his job back and he's having some problems with some people new to the area that no one seems to know.
One of the interesting scenes in this book is between the FBI and a ranger in another district. They threaten her with a FD302 where they can allege pretty much anything they want and as long as the 2 agents agree to what's on the form she will have no recourse or defense. I perked up with that because we now know that's exactly what they did in real life to Michael Flynn. It's only been in the last few months that it was revealed that the 302 form was falsified. Interesting!
All that aside it's a fun story and I'm always happy to see Nate Romanowski and his falcons involved. I'll be reading the newest one soon because Audible had it on sale for $6 the day I finished this one.
The Last Agent
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Eduardo Ballerini
I have to say that Robert Dugoni is one of my favorite M&I authors right now and I'm loving this new series. He's most well knows for the Tracey Crosswhite series but this book is the second installment in the Charles Jenkins series.
Jenkins is a former CIA agent and his specialty area is Russia. In this installment he returns to Russia to try to save Paulina Ponomayova. She sacrificed her life in the last book to help him escape Russia. Now he's found out that she's not dead but she's about to undergo interrogation.
It's very fast paced and perfectly narrated by one of my favorite readers, Eduardo Ballerini. It's clear at the end of the book that he will be heading back to Russia soon.
By Mark Edwards, Read By Simon Mattacks
I was looking for another Mark Edwards book and discovered this one already in my library. I don't know when I bought it but I had not read it yet. I must have bought it on sale because it's a bit shy of my 10 hour minimum. I'm glad I got it because it was quite an adventure.
Lucas is a horror novelist and arrives at Julia's house for a writer's retreat. Julia's daughter disappeared 2 years ago and her husband drowned trying to find her. She's turned her historic home into a writer's retreat. Julia is convinced that her daughter is still alive. Everyone else thinks she was taken by an apparition that shows up to take children.
It's got an Agatha Christie feel to it. I couldn't put it down.
By Nina Willner
I've had a lot of trouble getting myself interested in non-fiction lately. I've returned 2 history books to the library because I'm just mentally exhausted with American politics and history. I love both so I know I'll be back to it in a few months. But this book came up and I thought it might be interesting and I was not disappointed!
The author's mother escaped East Germany just before the Communists blocked off that country. She left her family behind to start a new life in West Germany. She married a Holocaust survivor who was serving in the US military. This book was written by her daughter and tells the story of the 40 years that the families were separated. It's a very well told story about an extraordinary family. I was totally captivated by it.
North and South
By Elizabeth Gaskell, Read By Juliet Stevenson
I discovered Gaskell last month in Audible's new free section. She's a Victorian Jane Austen so what's not to love! Supposedly Charles Dickens asked her to write this book.
Our heroine is Margaret Hale. Her father is a minister in beautiful Hampshire but he has to leave his post and the family settles in the fictional northern industrial town of Milton. It's a drastic change for Margaret as she sees first hand the consequences of the industrial revolution. If you like Pride and Prejudice you'll like this and it's perfectly narrated by Juliet Stevenson.
Return to Robinswood
By Jean Grainger, Read By Caroline Lennon
This is the second in the Robinswood series and you really have to read these in order. As a standalone book this would be a bit if a disjointed mess but as a series it carries on the characters from the first book right where they left off. It's another good light-hearted feel-good book. The bad guys aren't so bad and everyone is happy and hopeful in the end.
The writing is good enough that you can imagine the post-war Irish countryside and the difficulties if living in England during a period of rations.
The Hunting Party
By Lucy Foley
This was the perfect book to finish on the eve of Halloween. A group of university friends are getting together at a remote Scottish hunting lodge to ring in the New Year. They are all in their 30's and there are undercurrents of tensions and personal angst. They remind me a little of the cast of 30 Something or Mad About You , both shows that I hated for the self-absorbed nature of the characters. I was rewarded this time because one of them ends up murdered. It seems like everyone is a possible suspect. It was a fun read with little clues and mis-directions dropped throughout.
The got some exciting news yesterday that we can have our quilt club meetings again! We can't meet in our normal place because it isn't big enough but the arts center next door is letting us reserve their big room for a few months. I AM SO HAPPY!
I know that some people will still not be comfortable attending and I have complete respect for that but those who want to attend can and we can be safe in that large space.
So I'm loading and quilting veterans quilts again and these are the first 2.
I mentioned a few months ago about a local quilter who died and her stash was donated to us. I hope that Pamela Smith is happy knowing that so much of her fabric has been used to make veterans quilts! The top quilt is probably about the 10th "Pamela" quilt that's been made this year. Pamela was a big collector of Kaffe fabrics and these are all from his shot cotton collections. Pamela had a scrap bag of bits that Peg sewed together until she got a top big enough. If you have worked with the Kaffe woven fabrics you will know that this is a really soft quilt.
The second one was made by Karen when we had our first sewing days earlier this month. I almost feel like this one is too fresh. It was pieced and quilted in the same month!
The back of both quilts is buttery yellow and it's quilted with the super fast panto, Woven Wind.
The next pair of quilts are already loaded. Both are made by the same quilter in these great winter themed fabrics.
There are 6 more sets of quilts to be quilted (one set isn't in this photo) so I need to dye a few more quilt backs today. These will all get fast pantograph quilting treatments. I want to have them all done by November 17. Maybe I can get enough back bound in December to make one more delivery this year. We've delivered 84 so far and the VA is going through them pretty quickly! They go to patients receiving ports, mostly for cancer treatment.
The dog bed stuffing bin is going to fill up quickly this month so there will be more dog beds for RAL after Thanksgiving.
It's going to be a busy weekend. If the weather gets and stays dry I might get my floor cloths painted. But I will also be doing a lot of quilting and binding and, hopefully, designing some Christmas postcards.
This is my biggest blanket to date coming in at about 40 x 55. I determine the size of the blanket I make by how much yarn I have. I don't like to have leftover yarn.
This one is made with Caron Jumbo Yarn, 2 balls in the color Easter Basket. I do not really love the effect of the color changing with this particular yarn. I think something more subtle like Baby Rainbow would have been better. I doubt if I would use this yarn again. It does crochet up really nice, no splitting, but it's a little stiff for my taste. But it's quite warm which will be nice on winter evenings for someone.
This is my car travel pattern because it's so easy. I put it against some yellow fabric so you can see. It's simply double crochet and chain stitches. It's done in sets of 6 stitches with a 3 row repeat. I don't remember where the pattern came from. I seem to have it memorized now since I'm already on my 3rd one.
What saved this blanket, in my opinion, is the white border. It calmed it down a little. I first did SC around the edge in the main yarn and then switched to the white. I had intended to do one more round of white double crochet but ran out of yarn. That meant that it was finished! Crab stitch in the Caron yarn completed it and made the white border look like it really was meant to be on the blanket.
With it now all done with the border I'm a lot happier with it. I'm itching to start another one but now I need to focus on the binding of the giant quilt first. I'll hold the crochet project out as a reward for finishing the binding.
The past few days have had 1 chore sewing project but also 1 fun project.
Chris goes off for his annual hunting trip to Nebraska and he came to me with a plea to do an alteration on his heavy hunting pants. He wanted them let out a little but I also noticed that there are also a lot of holes in the pants.
I did all the things that I felt needed to be done and I "only" broke 2 needles. Both of those were broken when I was reattaching the belt loop. Belt loops are brutal!
It was a couple hour chore but I got the alteration done, patched all the holes and even replaced a button pocket with Velcro. He's ready to start packing and I earned some good wife points.
But then there's the fun stuff! Over the past several days I've been working on my test floor cloth and I LOOOVVVEEE it! I've learned so many lessons about which designs that work best. Designs that have a wheel in a wheel in a wheel really don't work well, for example. I learned how to layer designs and I've learned about drawing speed to prevent smudges. I will go ahead and turn this one into a floor cloth but it's time to start on the real ones! Chris got the paint for me today so I'll be doing the painting on these probably starting Thursday.
I also loaded some veterans quilts to start quilting, maybe tomorrow evening and I'm making good progress on finishing the crochet afghan. Today is dyeing day but I might be able to finish the crochet blanket tonight.
New Stash Packs
I hinted at these new Stash Packs in the last newsletter. I had to replace a few fabrics that I created in the first try. They have to be just like my original vision before I'll share them with you. Now they are ready for their debut.
Should I ever decide to do anything with this inspirational photo that I took last week in Great Smokies National Park, I would absolutely start with these 2 Stash Packs.
Stash Packs have 10 fat eights of heavily color textured fabrics in a color theme. They are perfect for art quilts, landscape quilts, small projects and scrap quilts. You can see all of the Stash Packs here.
Fabric of the Week
Keeping with the them of the new Stash Packs, I've selected the beautiful Jenny Lake Gradient as the fabric of the week. Jenny Lake was also inspired by a national park, It was created from an image that I took of Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons.
Patricia Caldwell used Jenny lake as the background fabric for her Sunrise Silhouette. Jenny Lake is 20% off through Sunday.
Thank you so much for the hundreds of entries to each of the giveaways last week! I'm glad you had fun while I was away. All those prizes didn't even make a dent in my stash so be on the lookout for another week of giveaways before the year is out.
Here are the winners for last week's contests. The winners have been notified.
Monday - Jean Grimes
Tuesday - Cathy Michaliga
Wednesday - Naomi Mankowitz
Thursday - Sandy Schadt
Friday - Gene Black
Saturday - Patty Voros
I'll have a contest winner post later today. I wrote this post Sunday evening so I hadn't drawn winners yet.
Well, we did it! We hiked the Alum Cave trail to Mount Leconte in the Great Smokies! When we visited the Smokies in June we only hiked to Alum Cave and have regretted chickening out of the rest of he hike ever since. We just had to go back and give it another try. It was at least 10 miles, over 3000 feet in elevation change and it took abut 7 hours. It was brutal but so worth it. The views along the way were breathtaking. We weren't even terribly sore the next day but we did mostly a driving tour that day except for the short (but steep) hike to Clingman's Dome so we could get this photo of Mount Leconte. The Great Smokies are beautiful and are particularly beautiful in Autumn but boy there are A LOT OF PEOPLE! I thought Acadia was crowded. It's nothing compared to the popularity of the Great Smokies. GS is so much bigger and loads more people live within a short drive so it's completely understandable. We saw license plates from New Hampshire to Texas to Wisconsin. It's a real treasure to have it so close by. Of course we have the Shenandoah even closer so we are pretty blessed with parks here in Virginia.
We were only there for a few nights so I didn't take any sewing with me. I had this car crochet project left from the trip to Maine. This pattern is so perfect for working on in the car. I make these blanket as big as the amount of yarn that I have. This yarn is a Caron yarn and I DO NOT LIKE IT. It's too stiff. I guess I'm spoiled by Hobby Lobby yarn. It's so much softer and nicer. But I had 2 big balls of it and it's made a blanket for a 4 or 5 year old. I bought some white to make a border that I hope will give it a little calmer personality.
The blanket isn't quite as ugly as it looks in this photo. I don't think the lighting or the green carpet did it any favors. I'll have a better photo when it's done.
I actually finished the body of the first afghan while we were in Gatlinburg so we had to make a quick stop on the way out of town so I could start another for the car ride home. This yarn is going to make a much prettier blanket and I got some dark pink for a border. It will be put away for the next car trip.
Before we left I posted about this gingham blanket that I started. Well it turns out that I'm really allergic to this yarn. I was having all kinds of allergy problems that week. It took a few days but I eventually realized that it was this yarn. It's acrylic so it shouldn't be a problem but it's likely a dye or finish. Could be anything. I'll find someone to give this yarn too. I'm happy to do that anyway because I think this yarn is too stiff too, like the Caron yarn above. I'll go get some Hobby Lobby yarn to make another one. I do like the technique a lot.
I had to go to Michaels to find the right white that would go with the first blanket so while I was there I picked up more yarn so I can finish this blanket.
My plan is to finish the big blanket above and then do the binding on Kim's quilt before I get back to any other crochet projects. That quilt is so big that it's probably going to take a month to stitch down that binding!
This week I'm going to get Mom's quilt loaded and maybe quilted and finish up my test spirograph floor cloth so I can get started on the real ones. I've also got to get some plans together for my Christmas postcards. I'm getting a very late start on those!
Today is the last day of the Fall Getaway Giveaway and you know that I always end with my famous "waste fabrics". These are created when I dye the gradients and, honestly, they are my most treasured fabrics. But sometimes the stash of these gets too big and I need to share a few. Each piece is a 6" - 8" strip that's width of fabric. Previous winners have created some awesome projects with these fabrics.
Enter below to be included in the drawing. All winners will be announced Monday!
Welcome to day 5 of the Fall Getaway Giveaway! Every day this week I'll have a different hand dyed package of goodies for you. Be sure to enter every day. Winners will be announced October 26.
Today's prize is more rogue gradients. These are mostly half yard pieces of various gradients that had some rogue dyeing activity crossing out of their respective zones. They are still really beautiful fabrics and I think you will like adding them to your stash!
Enter below to be included in the drawing for today's prize.
Welcome to day 4 of the Fall Getaway Giveaway! Every day this week I'll have a different hand dyed package of goodies for you. Be sure to enter every day. Winners will be announced October 26.
Today's prize package is all about Shades Packs. This prize includes 6 fat quarters of a pretty asparagus green and 3 of purple. Total yardage is 2.25!
Enter below to be included in the drawing for today's prize.
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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.