I've been watching a lot of football this month so my reading time has been restricted some. But I still made it through 8 books. It's was a pretty mediocre month of books but I loved Bloody Genius and Watching You.
What have you been reading?
By Jennifer Weiner, Read By Ari Graynor and Beth Manone
Two sisters grow up in 1950's Detroit and we follow them through their lives to modern times. In their journey they experience every possible feminist/progressive conundrum: religious discrimination, racism, sexual molestation/rape, lesbianism, interracial relationships, drug culture, free love and the predictable consequences, motherhood (or not), etc.
The author envisions that she is presenting a modern day Little Women and goes so far as to name her characters Jo and Beth and then makes them so self-absorbed that they aren't particularly likable. They don't seem particularly self-aware or aware of the consequences their actions have on themselves or others. As young people, don't seem to really give their decisions a lot of thought to begin with. They both are followers and fall into relationships or groups almost by happenstance. One part that really bothered me was Beth (as an adult) blaming Jo for something that happened to her when they were both teens that Jo didn't know about but, when she did find out, helped her fix. The meltdown later in life was unfair and unrealistic.
It's not a bad book but it's not great. It's really predictable and is clearly written to appeal to and fire up the modern day feminist. It seems to convey a message that consequences are unfair and that sentiment certainly feeds from current social thought.
Two things I found really interesting. One is that there are lots of sex scenes but the only ones described in detail are the lesbian scenes. Scenes between men and women are glossed over. I feel like she was doing that purposely to try to make certain readers particularly uncomfortable and I think it's a cheap trick.
Secondly, aside from their strong father, the book is all about women from start to finish. In the end there seems to finally be some family peace and it all centers on a little boy. That doesn't seem so feminist after all. Women can't get along without men in their lives?
The Fifth Column
By Andrew Gross, Ready By Eduardo Ballerini (my favorite narrator)
This is the third book that I've read from Andrew Gross. I almost didn't read it because it didn't meet my 10-hour minimum but I got it from the library (free) and that made it OK. :)
The fifth column is a term used to refer to any group that works to undermine a larger group from within. In this case it's Nazi sympathizers in NYC in 1940 working to wage war on the US from within.
Charles Mossman is 2 years out of jail from a drunken mistake and trying to rebuild a relationship with his 6 year old daughter and get his life back together. He comes to suspect that the kind Swiss neighbors are actually part of a sinister Nazi conspiracy. The problem is that Charles has no credibility and no one believes him. Once Pearl Harbor happens the conspiracy is activated and Charles is the only one who can see it but now his daughter is in danger.
This isn't as good as Button Man partly because Charles isn't a very sympathetic character. He makes a lot of bad and naive decisions that you can see coming from a mile away. But it's well written and a good story.
A Beautiful Place to Die
By Malla Nunn, Read By Saul Reichlin
This is the 1st in the Emmanuel Cooper series. The book is set in 1952 South Africa and Cooper is sent to a remote town ti investigate the murder of the local police captain. It is set the early days of Apartheid so the plot is complicated by the relationships between black, white and blended South Africa.
I have mixed feelings about the book. I liked the characters and the plot but for some reason I had a hard time sticking with it. It seemed to take some work to keep up. I'm not sure I'll read others in the series although I did enjoy having a totally different setting and environment for a story.
Behind Her Eyes
By Sarah Pinborough, Read By various readers
This book was recommended by a friend. I read the summary and didn't think I would like it (because it's not my genre) but I decided to give it a try when I saw that I could get it from the library for free.
Louise is a single Mom and a secretary. One night she meets a man in a bar and she feels a deep attraction. They only kiss and then he's gone until she arrives at work the following Monday and finds out he's her new boss. She meets his wife, Adele, while they are on a tour of the clinic offices. Later she bumps into Adele and they become friends. Now she's involved in both of their lives.
One the one hand it's a love triangle but it's also a dark psychological thriller. I was good with it up to that point and about half way through I realized that there was going to be a need to dispense with reality. I'll only say that there's an exploration of lucid dreams. Once I saw that coming I searched the web to find out the ending, realized that I would hate it and I stopped reading. I don't even like the idea of Disneyland's made up world as a vacation idea so this book was never really going to appeal to me.
All that said, if you like psychological thrillers or fantasy/mystical books I think you would really enjoy this. It's a very unique storyline and it's well written. It's just not my bag.
By Lisa Jewell, Read By Gabrielle Glaister
I don't know which of you is responsible for introducing me to Lisa Jewell but, thank you. I've found a new "must read" author. This is the second Jewell book I've read and I really enjoyed both of them.
Set on an upscale street in fictional Melville Heights in Bristol, England amid the famous painted houses. The cast of characters include Tom Fitzwilliam, local school headmaster, his wife and teen aged son who likes to spy on people in the area. Joey Mullen, newly married and living with her brother and pregnant SIL, a student with a mother who thinks that Tom is spying on her and a student with a crush on Tom. It's all complex and integrated but not so complex that you can't follow it.
You know early on what happened at the end but you don't know who or why. I was hooked by this very clever book. The narrator was excellent too. I'm off to reserve another Jewell book at the library.
Songs of Willow Frost
By Jamie Ford, Read By Ryan Gesell
This is my second book by Ford. I absolutely loved the first one, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
This one is similar. It's set in Depression-era Seattle and centers on a young boy who has been living in Sacred heart Orphanage since his mother's body was carried away from their apartment 5 years ago. One day he and the other orphans are taken to a local theater where he sees the actress Willow Frost and he's convinced that she is his mother.
He and his blind friend, Charlotte, escape to find her.
I didn't think it was a good as his first book but it's still good. It's quite dark and I feel like he has done a lot of research into the reality of life for Chinese people in Seattle during that time.
The Child Finder
By Rene Denfeld, Read By Alyssa Bresnahan
This another example of a book that I took a risk on simply because I could get it free from the library. I was underwhelmed.
The premise is good. Madison Culver has been missing for 3 years in Oregon's Skoookum National Forest. She would be 8 years old now. Naomi is everyone's last hope. She's known as The Child Finder because of "unique" investigative techniques to find missing children. Naomi was once a missing child herself.
As she searches for Madison (and another child recently missing) she starts to remember things from her own past.
This would have been really good if Naomi used techniques that are actually different and special. Her techniques are very basic investigative techniques and there's no way those techniques wouldn't have been used by the real investigators 3 years earlier. The community is also small and people would have noticed the things that she was asking about all on their own.
Abduction is a pretty dark topic so be prepared if you decided to read this one.
By John Sandford, Read By Eric Conger
I've been waiting for this book for weeks from the library. This is #12 in the Virgil Flowers series. At a local university a renowned researcher is found dead at the library. After the investigation languishes for 2 weeks Virgil is called in to assist.
There are ideological zealots, ex-wives and a daughter among the possible suspects.
Like all Sandford novels it's fast paced and funny. It was a good ending to the month.
Next up is Elton John's autobiography.
I watched football last night so I was able to finish the binding on the first Groovy quilt. Click over to the Gallery to read more and see the cool tie dyed back.
I am allergic to literally dozens of foods with the big ones being wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, onions, garlic and the really big one, chlorophyll. I pretty much can't eat any vegetable that grows above ground or any fruit with a green rind or peel. My food selections are very limited and that's one reason that I don't enjoy cooking. But I've never really enjoyed cooking, I'm more of a baker. I have a few gluten free vegan dessert recipes that work for me but it doesn't get a little boring. Periodically I get a new cookbook or scour the web for some new dessert recipes. It's always an ordeal because invariably they call for 3 flours that I don't generally stock but once ever few years I give it a try.
That try was this weekend and, as usual, it was about 90% failure. My goal was lemon meringue pie. The meringue part is easy. Aquafaba has solved that for everyone. I needed a lemon curd that didn't rely on soy or cashews. I tried 2 different recipes that had rave reviews and after a day of cooking I ended up with 2 slime pies. They were so gross and I made them EXACTLY to the recipes. But I did get a better pie crust so that will help a couple of my other recipes.
I moved on to looking for gingerbread. The gingerbread cookies tasted like metal (which happens a lot with GF vagan baking) but I landed on a big winner with a Gingerbread Loaf. I didn't add the chocolate chips, that seemed a bit much. But the loaf was delicious. I haven't had gingerbread since I was able to eat the one that my Mom used to make.
So after a weekend of wasting a lot of food products (which is necessary from time to time) I do have one more great recipe to add to my small recipe folder.
In between frustrating cooking sessions and massive cleaning up sessions I needed a little peace and got started on the third set of Christmas cards. The first step was screen printing the cards.
Using the leftover edges of my Groovy quilts I'm making peace trees. I"m getting all of the cards to the edge stitching stage and will do that all at once on the serger.
During football yesterday afternoon I fused and cut 3 yards of fabric for postcard backs. This is what's left after I fused the cards that are ready so far. I like keeping a stash of pre-fused backs. It makes the process so much faster for the next set.
These are all ready for the finishing edges and maybe a little bling of crystals.
I have 12 more cards to make with these little Hardanger embroideries that I made years ago. They were meant to be ornament gifts for my family. Now they will be postcards for my family instead. Last night I started planning the design.
I think it's going to be something like this. I had this old cross stitch angel and turned it into a card too. It's better to make something with it than letting it continue to languish in a bin. I think she turned out pretty cute.
I won't be posting much this week. Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday and not again until Saturday or Monday. If you are in the US I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Yesterday was an abnormal day for me because I spent a lot of it in the kitchen. That's not really my "milieu" but periodically I get in a baking mood and I'm in the mood to try out some new gluten-free vegan desserts. About 80% of GFV dessert recipes are disgusting but you have to give them a try to find the one or two gems. I did find a great bread recipe recently from this book. It's amazing and will do nothing for my desire to lose 5 pounds. (It's only a desire, not a requirement.)
But trying new recipes means finding the 45 different GF flours that the recipes call for. I had most of them but needed 2 new ones. I struck out at both places I went to yesterday so will try on the other side of town today where I'm going to, hopefully, buy a new chair. If you are short you know how difficult it is to find comfortable chairs. My favorite is a Stressless chair that I bought about 20 years ago. I'm hoping to easily replace it with pretty much the same chair without the cracked leather effect.
Aside from making (and eating) bread, the only thing I really accomplished yesterday was to get these shopping totes washed out. These are for gifts for a group of friend that meets each month. Only one of them reads my blog and she already requested potholders instead so it's OK if she sees them. They don't look like much here.
But each one was screen printed with Color Magnet before dyeing. Where the Color Magnet is applied the dyed concentrates. Each pair of bags is different and I'll show them after they are ironed and I've determined that they are actually finished. You can see a tablecloth that I dyed with this method by scrolling down to the Other Projects in my 2015 Gallery.
My primary goal for the weekend is to do no more shopping. After that I want to get Groovy 2 together, finishing binding Groovy 1 and work on the Christmas postcards.
Yesterday was "dyeing day" and I usually don't get much done on Wednesday other than that. But I had these 2 veterans quilts loaded and one was already quilted so before dinner I finished the second one. The one on the right is folded to show the backing color. For quilts that were conceived just to get another UFO off my list, I'm really happy with these 2 quilts. The binding fabric is in the dye bath so I should be able to get these bound next week. That means at least 2, probably 3 and maybe 4 finishes for November.
Today I'm going to work on some Christmas cards and do some stitching on the Groovy binding. I might even get a row or 2 of Big Groovy together.
The most important thing I needed to accomplish the past 2 days was to get this label done and stitched on the quilt. I always wash the quilt before I add the label so that the label won't be baggy the first time it's washed. That's a risk with labels as big as the ones that I make.
While I had everything out I made the label for the Groovy quilt too. I'm still slowly progressing on the binding. I have plenty of time. This one doesn't have to be finished until December 1 but I want it done before we leave for Thanksgiving.
I'm also pecking away at the Christmas postcards. I might have some photos to share tomorrow.
We're not talking baseball here, we're talking about Stars fabrics. Stars are all 1 yard cuts and each one is unique. I make these at the end of my dye session and have fun mixing colors in new ways. I added over 9 new ones this week and now there are LOTS of them in the shop to choose from. In fact, there are so many that it's time to seriously reduce some inventory and the best way to do that is to have a big sale!
For one week only, Stars are on sale 25% off! Use coupon code STARS25 at checkout.
Stars are my go-to fabric for binding fabric because generally a yard is plenty for binding one quilt. But you could also pick 3 or 4 for a palette or an art quilter might want a larger piece of fabric for their stash sky or landscape elements.
Whatever you might use them for, this is the one and only time that they've been discounted 25% so think of this as an early Black Friday sale and get yourself a little gift!
It was quite a productive weekend around here. I didn't actually finish anything but I made some progress on several things.
I loaded the last 2 veterans quilts for the year. These are getting done because they are mine and they will knock one UFO off my list!
You can see that I got one done. I'm using a simple leaf pantograph so it's quilting up quickly. I will not finish it today though. I need to get a label on Fireworks so I can take it to Mom tomorrow and she can deliver it to Patrick over Thanksgiving.
I spent some time Saturday evening playing around with frame ideas for Fireworks and Groovy quilt labels.
I spent my football watching time (Go Hokies! Boo Eagles.) stitching the Groovy binding. It's slow because my hand is still bothering me some. As long as I don't do too much at one sitting I'm OK.
I also started putting Groovy II together. It's going to take a little while. I have to lay it out after every row to decided the placement of the colors for the cornerstones. But I'm having lots of fun working on it.
This week I have to get a label on Fireworks, need to make some serious progress on Christmas postcards, do some screen printing on Christmas gifts and, hopefully, grout the dye sink backsplash.
This week's inspiration comes from Stephaine Wilds, the master of monochromatic portraits. These pups are 14" x 17" and made as a commission for a very special Christmas gift. Stephaine used the Gray Skies gradient to get her palette.
For sharing, Stephanie 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.
The last binding stitch is done so, aside form the label, the quilt is done. The bright blue binding worked out perfect. Mom and Becky convinced me not to use black or gray and to try a color. They were right.
This quilt is going to my nephew, Patrick. He's a graphic artist and loves bright colors. It wasn't planned for him but the quilt told me where it needed to go as I was working on it. That seems to happen to me a lot.
I like to give quilts washed just to make sure nothing surprising happens the first time they wash it. It also encourages the recipient to actually use the quilt. All I need now is a label and then my Mom can deliver it over Thanksgiving when she visits my brother. It will be soft and crinkly and ready to use as soon as he receives it.
You can see more detail photos on the Gallery page.
I had planned to start stitching the binding on Groovy this weekend but ti seems that Fireworks gave me a bit of tendinitis in my hand. Instead I'll be working on Christmas postcards this weekend. The deadline is rolling up pretty quickly for Christmas cards so it's good that I change focus a bit.
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.
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