Friday, October 28, 2016

A Few Finished Projects

I haven't shown off any of my finished projects since last spring when I finished the purple and green quilt I'd first begun for my sister. As I look around, it doesn't seem as if I've finished all that much stuff, yet I've been spending a lot more time sewing over the last 6 months than I used to. As is typical for me, I am working on half a dozen thing simultaneously. It's kind of like how I read--a library book here, a book on my phone everywhere, another book on my Kindle over there, and an audio book in the car. Sometimes I feel like a poster child for middle-aged ADD. But I'm managing to be productive.

One thing I'm also doing? Hanging out on Instagram. It's where a lot of the other quilters are. I've discovered swaps! Too. Much. Fun. There's more about that below.

Anyway, there's proof I've made stuff!!

First up is this little backpack. I found the pattern on Craftsy. It's not very big, about 8" x 11" and not designed to hold anything really heavy. It was perfect to use on my vacation instead of a purse. It wasn't the easiest thing to make, to be honest, but I was very happy with how it turned out.

Here's a paper-pieced mini quilt. The patterns are from Designer's Workshop. Artist and designer, Eileen Sullivan, sells the best patterns. I own quite a few of them. You'll see that the little hanging below is similar to a set of fall leaves I made last year. Anyhow I love these little projects and have plans to work on those other patterns I have. They are great ways to use up scraps of fabric in my stash.

Lots of quilters on Instagram take part in mini quilt swaps. Someone organizes a swap based on a theme. Quilters sign up and agree to make a small quilt, usually no more than 16" square, and send it to someone in exchange for receiving one in turn. After following a couple of these swaps, I decided to enter my first one. This swap used the paper piecing patterns by Kristy Lea, aka QuietPlay. My partner requested a block out of Kristy's Retro Kitchen collection. So here's what I made:

And here's what I received in return:
It's even prettier in person. Check out the detail in the binding. I need to try that technique sometime.

There are some stunning pieces in this swap that involved over 300 people from around the world. Search #quietplayswap on Instagram for a peek. Needless to say, I'm hooked. And currently entered in two more swaps! Wait til you see the little Christmas tree I'm working on. Or, if you want an advanced sneak peak, you'll find me over there as @QuilterPhyl. I've already posted one picture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TBR Day. Cold Pursuit / Toni Anderson. 2014

I've had a few book in Toni Anderson's Cold Justice series on my Kindle for a while now, and finally read the first one last month. Since the theme this month includes suspense, I had a great excuse to move on to Book 2. And I'm glad I did. I found this book just as engrossing as A Cold Dark Place, with a nice blend of suspense and romance.

Cold Pursuit opens with a bang-- literally. Single mom Vivi is Christmas shopping with her young son, Michael, in a Minneapolis mall when terrorists strike. Also shopping in the mall is an FBI agent who is part of the same Behavioral Analysis Unit as the heroine from ACDP and on leave. Jed is a veteran and immediately goes into combat mode. Vivi hides her son in a small cabinet and quietly goes looking for an escape route. Jed helps Vivi and some others get out and then goes back for Michael. Along the way, SWAT arrives and most of the terrorists are taken out. But one one avoids capture. During the ensuing investigation, it is discovered that Michael may have heard and/or seen something significant. Only there is a problem. Michael is mute. There is no easy way to discover if he knows anything.

Vivi and Michael are taken to a safe house, but -- as you might expect -- it doesn't remain safe for long. So Jed takes them off to his home in Wisconsin, a secluded cabin near his family. As all this is happening, Jed & Vivi find themselves more and more attracted to one another. Jed especially tries to resist, because hey-- this really isn't the time, is it? I won't go into the rest, but there are plenty of twists and turns. I really didn't want to put it down.

It was interesting to read this book now. The people behind the terrorists are trying to provoke a war between the U.S. and Syria. As we know, in real life, the war in Syria continues, with world-wide implications. We are all aware of how horrifying the images have been. And then there are people trying to make political fodder out of the refugees. I think there were parts of this book that hit home in a way they might not have had I read it when it was first published.

There are several interesting secondary characters, especially Jed's family. Young Michael is key to the story, but he doesn't come across as an overly cute plot moppet. Quite the opposite actually. The book is tied in the loosest of ways to ACDP, so there's no need to read that one first. After reading two books in the series I appreciate the deft blending of romance and suspense. I'm really quite eager to read more of them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Phyl's 4 Recent Phaves

In no particular order, here are some VERY brief remarks about four recently-read books that I really enjoyed.

A Cold Dark Place by Toni Anderson. If you are squeamish or easily triggered by violence or sexual assault, this is NOT the book for you. But if you like well-written, suspenseful romantic suspense, I do recommend this one. The hero is a hired gun who steps in when the criminal justice system fails. The heroine chose a career in law enforcement specifically to try and find her twin sister who was kidnapped, and never found, when the girls were young. The conflicts were not forced, and very interesting moral questions were raised. To top it off, there was just enough romance.

The King's Man by Elizabeth Kingston. Twitter friend Jessica raved about the audio version of this book, narrated by the incomparable Nicholas Boulton. It's a medieval that features a hero whose life is not really his own (see the title) and a heroine who can fight and lead as well as any man. Unfortunately, to do so she needs to dress and act the part of a man. There's an arranged marriage, the treacherous waters of medieval politics, and adventure on the road. Both the hero and heroine have to come to grips with who they are as individuals and who they can be together. I had to drive with the windows up so I didn't miss a word (I hate to use the A/C)! But totally worth it. Thank you, Jessica.

What We Find by Robyn Carr. Carr begins a new series with this book, once again centered around a small community. Maggie and Cal wind up at Sullivan's Crossing for very different reasons, although essentially they both need emotional healing from recent events. This is a much richer book than many of Carr's recent Thunder Point or Virgin River books, some of which I DNF'd to be honest. I thought there was better character development here and I also thought that Maggie was one of the stronger heroines Carr has written. Maggie doesn't need to be rescued or taken care of; she needs time and space to deal with recent upheavals in her personal and professional life and to re-orient herself. In the end what develops in her relationship with Cal is a partnership, with plenty of give and take. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this.

Acute Reactions by Ruby Lang. This book was both funny and tender with an interesting set-up. Petra is fighting to establish a solo medical practice as an allergist when Ian comes in as a new patient. He wants allergy shots to he can be near his girlfriend's cat. They are immediately attracted to one another, but Petra could lose her medical license if she got involved with Ian. And Ian-- well, there's that aforementioned girlfriend. The story seemed to flow at just the right place. Petra and Ian have significant issues to overcome and I appreciate a story where we see the characters grow and change. I really cared for these two. Hard Knocks, the next book in the series, is already on my Kindle.