Showing posts from 2013

Love Overdue / Pamela Morsi. 2013

Hello friends! Sorry for the long silence of late. I'm still here, still reading and quilting, and still hopeful to find time to share more of it with you. I read this book the other day and am anxious to talk about it. So here goes.

I have to start out this review with a little conversation about me :)

I'm a librarian who has spent her career in the technical services (cataloging and acquisitions) departments of 3 different academic libraries. Despite spending a few years doing some fill-in Sunday reference work in a large public library, I really have no significant public library experience. Like many of you reading this, I am a huge user and supporter of my local public library. Most of us academic types are far more used to the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. It's very different from the Dewey Decimal system (DDC) used in most public and school libraries. The DDC was created in 1876 and while it has been revised and updated nearly 2 dozen times since,…

TBR Day. Ghost Planet / Sharon Lynn Fisher. 2012

This month's theme is books that received lots of hype. I don't really have anything like that in my TBR pile, so I decided to go off in a totally different direction and review the first SF romance I've read in ages. This book was a finalist this year in the RITAs and the description was intriguing so I picked it up several months ago. I finally read it this weekend and I really, really liked it. Fisher was nominated in the "Best First Book" category. If this is her first book, I'm definitely looking forward to more.

Earth is in a bad way as the environment has become extremely toxic. A new world has opened up that has incredible potential to provide the sustenance Earth needs. But there's a very strange phenomenon on this planet. Whenever a new human arrives on the planet, someone from that person's past is reincarnated into a very human-like body and is somehow tethered to their human. Everyone has a "ghost" trailing behind them. The gho…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from July

Yes, yes, I know. It's November. I don't want to admit how long I've had a draft of this post waiting to be published.

5. Her Best Worst Mistake / Sarah Mayberry. (2012) This book received a lot of attention when it was first released, so I was pretty eager to read it. Plus, I've liked most of Mayberry's books that I've read. This is an enemies to lovers story, and really interesting in the way Mayberry's characters, Violet and Martin, shed the assumptions each has had about the other. This book runs concurrent to Hot Island Nights (which I haven't read). Elizabeth and Martin had been engaged for years, when suddenly Elizabeth flies off to Australia in search of her biological father. She leaves her best friend, Violet, to break the news to Martin. Martin and Violet have never gotten along. Violet thinks Martin is all wrong for Elizabeth, and Martin objects to Violet's flamboyant ways. On the surface they seem so different for one another, yet when …

Fall Leaves

Three weeks ago I found I needed to whip up a quick gift. I would like to have made something more elaborate, but being short on time, I decided to choose this very simple pattern. Leafdrops was designed by Cheryl Wittmayer of Sew Be It. The pattern actually makes a much larger quilt. This is about 22" x 32". I went with just 2 blocks using a gorgeous, rich golden leaf fabric and a brown print. The pattern included some quilting designs that I really liked. I quilted the veins of the leaves and then mimicked that in the borders. I think the veins also resemble empty tree branches. I love the effect.
To quilt this design I lightly drew it in chalk and then just free-motioned over my chalk lines. The dark brown frame is ditch stitched. I love to quilt with Aurifil thread and I used two colors (a brown and a bright golden yellow) for the quilting and for the machine applique.

 Here are a couple of views of the back.

TBR Day. The Protected / Shiloh Walker. 2013

OK, this book has been in the TBR pile 3 weeks max because it was just published last month. But since it fits this month's theme--paranormal or romantic suspense--by being both, and because I was dying to read it, I didn't really look for anything else to read.
This book is part of Shiloh Walker's FBI Psychics series. The FBI Psychics are part of a task force that sort of flies under the radar. FBI officers with special psychic abilities work to solve various crimes. In this book one of the members of the task force, Vaughnne MacMeans, is charged protecting a young boy with strong psychic abilities that others want to exploit. Young Alex, along with the man watching over him, Gus, have been living on the run, hiding from criminals who want Alex. But Alex's untrained psychic abilities make him a beacon. Vaughnne wants to help keep Alex and Gus alive and teach Alex how to shield himself and use his gift properly.
Vaughnne is a woman who's been on her own since she …

TBR Day. Wild Sweet Love / Beverly Jenkins. 2007

This month's TBR theme is Western and this book begins and ends in the west, with a huge middle part set in Philadelphia, my favorite city. So it's a win on all counts. I picked this up a number of years ago at an RT book-signing where I briefly met Beverly Jenkins and purchased an autographed copy. I still have a whole stack of books from that day that are blocked from view by all of the other TBR books that have been acquired in the meantime. I ran across this when moving the stacks around a while back and pulled it out to save for western month. It is a sad thing when one forgets a whole stack of books.

Wild Sweet Love is loosely connected to two of Jenkins' previous books (Something Like Love and A Chance at Love) that I haven't read, but I didn't feel lost at all. This book stands on it's own nicely. This is also the first book I've read by Jenkins. It won't be the last, that's for sure.

WSL tells the story of Teresa July, a Black Seminole, who…

One Baby Quilt finished in July

My sixth and final UFO project for the shop challenge I entered this year was to make something out of that little purple packet of Moda Fabrics' pre-cut charm squares that's on the right in the picture above. At some point after buying that charm pack I had also picked up a couple yards of one of the fabrics in the collection. I figured that together they would make a nice little baby quilt. I didn't use a pattern. I just laid the squares out in a grid, cut some white sashing strips, and sewed the whole thing together. The completed top measures around 45" x 49".

For the quilting, I did straight lines horizontally and vertically. Pretty basic stuff, but I like the simple look of it.

Sadly, I never did win any of the gift cards, but it's a total win that I got these 6 projects done. I'll have to come up with some way to challenge myself to keep plugging away at all of the unfinished things in my sewing room.
And for 2013 we are up to 11 quilts in 7 month…

TBR Day. Escorted / Claire Kent. 2012

This month's TBR theme is hot and steamy. I rarely read erotic romance, so I was about to pick something else for this month when I remembered I had this on my Kindle. I think it was free for a while, or at least very cheap. Escorted, by Claire Kent, is the story of Ander, a male prostitute, and Lori, a best-selling romance writer. Lori, at age 27 is still a virgin and she decides it would be easier to hire someone for sex than go through the angst of sex with someone who would expect her to have more experience. Since I've read a fair share of historicals featuring a female courtesan, this turnabout was kind of interesting.

The book is told entirely from Lori's perspective, although in the 3rd person. I thought Kent did an excellent job of letting us see Ander's feelings through Lori's eyes. There's a lot of awkwardness as what begins as a business transaction turns into a relationship. Lori is unapologetically inquisitive; we learn about Ander through her pe…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from June

Oops! It's been exactly a month since my last post. Sorry about that. But any of you who visit here regularly don't really expect consistency from me, do you?

I enjoyed some interesting reads in June. It's a good thing, because in some ways, June was a hellish month. Reading was a wonderful refuge from the stress. As was social media where I learned about 4 of the 5 books listed here (the exception being Heart of Obsidian since the Psy-Changeling series is an auto-read). I don't put myself out there much, but I'm grateful for the people who do and talk about what they're reading. Those folks inform my choices and lead me to some great stuff; my June Phaves are evidence of that.

5. The Turncoat / Donna Thorland. (2013) Heh. Just now when I was capturing the link to Thorland's website I noticed its subtitle: "Sex, Violence and History." And doesn't that say it all about her writing. I picked this up after seeing a glowing mention somewhere (prob…

TBR Day. Dearly Beloved / Mary Jo Putney. 1990

This month's theme is Classic Romance. I really don't have anything left in my TBR pile that meets that definition. Since Mary Jo Putney has written at least one romance that I do consider classic (Shattered Rainbows, how I love you), I picked up this one, which is one of her earlier books.

Gentle reader, I could not read this book. I didn't throw it against the wall. I threw it away.

The book opens when a semi-drunk Gervase, having made a tryst with a serving girl at the inn where he's staying, stumbles upstairs, goes to the wrong room and proceeds to rape 15-yo Diana. Despite the fact that she's screaming her head off, he assumes it's the serving girl just playing games. Her screams bring her father who then forces the two of them to marry. When Gervase sobers up, he refuses to consider that he might have gone to the wrong room. He believes he was entrapped. So he writes a letter to his lawyer instructing him to pay Diana an annual allowance under the condit…

Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters. 2012

For a long time I've wanted to add reviews of quilting books to this blog. And here we go with the first one. I hope to do 2-3 per year, to highlight how I use my library of quilting books.

When I was preparing to quilt my Asian-themed quilt, I had only the vaguest idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do a straight-line plaid stitch through the 2-inch blocks. I knew I would do a simple little curvy stitch through the first narrow border. Like this:

Next, I knew I wanted each panel to have its own all-over design that would in some way reflect the fabric. But I did NOT know how to achieve the results I wanted. That is, I knew I wanted something that looked like water in one panel, leaves in another, etc. But I had never actually stitched designs like that before and I was feeling rather adrift and panicky.

Then I stumbled across this book at my local quilt shop. I had no idea who Angela Walters is. I discovered she's quite well-known among modern quilters for her qu…

Quilts Finished June 2013

My June UFO project was a big one. I had pieced the central portion of this quilt in February at my guild's retreat. And by the terms of the UFO contest at my local quilt shop, I only needed to finish piecing the top. Then I made the rather insane decision to enter it in the June NQA show. That meant it had to be fully finished by the 20th of June in order to have it to the show on time.
I didn't want to take the easy way out by doing an all-over (i.e. boring) quilting pattern. I wanted the quilting to reflect the themes of the Asian fabrics. So each large panel across the quilt is quilted differently. From top to bottom I quilted small flowers, water, leaves, chrysanthemums, and ginkgo leaves fallen among pebbles. The border fabric is printed bamboo, so I quilted long, skinny leaves--they kind of look like grass. Oh my, was that a ton of work. But I am so pleased with how it turned out:
This picture shows a little more detail of the quilting:

Here's a shot from the back:

Phyl's 5 Phaves from May

For a variety of reasons, June was a particularly busy and stressful month. I've spent this first week of July taking a few deep breaths and relaxing. Blogging has not been high on my list of things to do. I did finish 2 quilts. One had to be ready for the annual NQA show and another had to be ready for a goodbye party. I'll be posting pictures of those soon.

Meanwhile, here are 5 books I remember really enjoying back in May.

5. Shattered by Karen Robards. Years ago I read as many of Robards' historicals as I could find in my local library. At the time I wasn't too interested in RS, so I didn't continue to read her. A friend recommended Shattered to me and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Lisa Scott grew up in privilege in a small Kentucky town. After working for a large law firm in the big city she's back home to care for her mother who is slowly dying of ALS. She goes to work for DA Scott Buchanan, former neighbor whose upbringing was as different from Lis…

TBR Day. Lord of the Night / Susan Wiggs. 1993

With the annual RWA conference around the corner, this month's TBR theme is books that won or were nominated for an RWA RITA award. A list of past winners can be found here. I had no luck finding a comprehensive list of nominations, which is unfortunate as I'm sure some of those books also reside in my TBR pile. When I scanned the list of winners, though, I immediately remembered that I had Susan Wiggs'Lord of the Night on hand. In 1994 it won the RITA for Best Romance of 1993. According to Amazon, I bought this back in 2005, and I'm going to assume that I bought it after seeing it discussed on one of the old AAR message boards. If I remember correctly, this book had its lovers and haters. One big reason for the hate is the fact that the hero is 39 and the heroine is 18. In fact the hero, a widower, has 2 grown children.
Lord of the Night takes place in 16th century Venice and centers around Sandro Cavalli, who holds the title Lord of the Night-- he is captain general …

Sneak Peak

I'm working under a couple of deadlines, so I don't have much time for blogging. Nonetheless, here's a peak at what I'm working on now. The first two pictures are the quilting on the quilt I started in February at my annual guild retreat (scroll down).
When my shoulders get tired from pushing that big quilt around, I work on this little wall hanging. Here's the background waiting for a few big and colorful flowers. This is going to be fun.

Phyl's 5 Phaves from April

April feels as if it was many months ago rather than just one. Life has been busy and sometimes I have a hard time making myself write. But I do want to say something about the books I really liked each month.

So, the April phave list includes two non-romance books. I should read outside the genre more often. The variety is nice.

5. Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. This mystery/suspense novel is the first book by Gardner I've ever read. It is clearly connected to a previous book, and while I was somewhat intrigued by the back story, I doubt I'll go back and read that one. However, I think I probably will read Gardner going forward. In this one her characters were well-developed, and I liked the way she wrote from several POVs. Interestingly, one particular character was written from the 1st person POV. What an unusual way to tell a story. Normally I'm not overly fond of mysteries, but this one sounded too interesting to skip. An entire family goes missing and there's not …


This is my "Quilts Finished in May" post. It's the only thing I'll actually finish this month, although I've been hard at work on two other quilts. One is a full-sized bed quilt that I'm just starting to quilt; the other is a small hand appliqued, hand quilted wall hanging that I just may finish in June. In the meanwhile, this was my May UFO that I took by the quilt shop this afternoon so I could get myself entered in the May drawing.

This is from a pattern called "Take Four" designed by Cary Flanagan of Something Sew Fine Quilt Design. I bought the pattern and the fabric pack used to make them last summer at one of the quilt shops I visited near Bremerton, WA while on vacation out west. It's a very clever way to use four fabrics and they were quick and easy to make. I know I'll be making more of these!

TBR Day. Kill and Tell / Linda Howard. 1998

This month's theme is "more than one," i.e. multiple books by the same author sitting in the old TBR pile. In addition to this RS title, I had one of Howard's older category romances which I think I'll save for later this year or next year.

Kill and Tell begins with the shooting death of Karen Whitlaw's father. His body is left in an alley in the French Quarter of New Orleans and detective Marc Chastain is assigned to the case. Marc believes his victim was homeless and estranged from his family, so initially the detective assumes the elder Whitlaw was the victim of random violence. He contacts Karen so she can come to New Orleans to claim the body.

Karen is a nurse in Columbus, Ohio. Her father, a Viet Nam vet, deserted her and her mother when Karen was 7 and Karen's had almost no contact with him since. Her mother had had occasional contact, but over time Karen had refused to speak him when he would call. Now Karen's mother is also dead. Still reeli…

Quilts Finished in April

Well I'm half way through my local quilt shop's UFO Challenge and so far so good. I've finished the three projects I'd intended to do. Sadly I haven't won any of the monthly prizes, but I am loving the incentive to get these things done.

First, I need to remind you of this quilt that I made a couple of years ago:

It was for the great-nephew of a co-worker. She commissioned me to make a baby quilt for him. We talked about colors and I found this great space fabric that I thought would be fun for a boy. Only it turns out that the baby's mom hates orange and other bright colors. So we went with Plan B, the blue and brown quilt above.

But that left me with this quilt top. I set it aside to quilt later. And here it is, done at last. I love this version so much. It's bright and happy.

For the quilting, I did free-motion stars all over the whole thing. They're very funky looking. Here's the back where you can see them better:

But of course, this wasn't…

Phyl's 5 Phaves for March

March was a most excellent reading month. It was good to catch up on a number of books I'd been wanting to read for a while. Here are the ones I liked best:

5. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. I know I've said I avoid paranormal these days, but the Mercy Thompson series is one I've always wanted to read-- I've heard so many good things about it. It turns out we actually drove through the Tri-Cities in Washington, where these books take place, on our way home from Oregon last summer. We camped a bit to the north of the city and below is one of my pictures of the sunset from our campsite. So while we didn't actually stop and spend time there, I have some sense of the terrain of the area which I think helped my enjoyment of the book. I've already gone on to read the second book, Blood Bound, and I like the way Briggs has created her world, slowly revealing details across the books. I love Mercy--her independence, her determination, and her sense of humor. There'…

Color Wheel Challenge

The president of my guild issued a challenge last fall. Make a quilt that displays the 6 main colors of the color wheel. The quilt has to show the progression of the colors, although it doesn't matter which color you begin with. They were due at our April meeting. Here are a few of them:

That one above is made of yo-yos, appliqued to a black background. It is simply stunning in person and was voted favorite quilt by the members of the guild.
As you're about to see, it's clear I have a thing for squares. I was inspired by some colorful, whimsical artwork at the local children's hospital. I decided it would be fun to go through my stash and see how much variety I could find. This was my entry. 
Below is a close-up of the quilting. I made a fundamental mistake with my straight-line quilting, going back and forth rather than starting each line of quilting from the same end. It caused some tugging on the fabric and distorted my squares. I almost ripped out all of the quilti…