Monday, March 28, 2011

Easy Appliqué Blocks by Kay Mackenzie

This is the perfect book for a beginner appliqué quilter or someone wanting to learn how to appliqué.  I am so impressed with the author’s variety in her designs and to have all 50 designs included together in the same book.  I already have several ideas that I would like to try.   With just the designs she has included, I could make a bird quilt, an animal quilt, a flower quilt, a kitchen quilt, a “welcome” home style quilt, or a baby or child quilt.  If my own ideas aren’t enough, there is a section at the end with a gallery of ideas.

There are excellent instructions on different techniques of appliqué.  There is a list of needed notions, information on pattern prep and instructions for creating a placement guide. Different methods are covered in both hand and machine appliqué. Kay Mackenzie’s instructions are detailed without being too wordy and contain good diagrams.

As if the 50 designs are not enough, there is also a CD included that includes all of the designs printable in 5 sizes.  Also, there are different print options depending on what method you are using for your appliqué.   I liked the layout of the CD because it had the feel of navigating a website. 

Although I am more of an intermediate-skilled appliqué quilter, I love this easy book.  Embellishments can make even the easiest quilt block look like a masterpiece. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rasner's Revenge by Mark Rosendorf link for Rasner's Revenge  
Rasner's Revenge is the third Rick Rasner book in the series. In Rasner's Revenge we find many of the same main characters, Rick, Clara, Jake, Gen. Straker and more. Author Mark Rosendorf's characters are always unique and his writing is very good. There is a perfect blend of dialog and narration, and the action explodes on every page. I loved the characters and I hated them, but that is what made the story so interesting.

Rasner's Revenge, along with the rest of the Rick Rasner series of books, is not for the squeamish because of the amount of violence, but the violence is an important part of the personality of the characters.

Although this third book in the series can stand alone, I highly recommend reading The Rasner Effect first. You will get a better background of each of the characters, and I confess that the first was my favorite of the three because of one major twist. I thought this third in the series was going to be the last, but there is still a mystery or two that could be revealed in another book. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue by Christine Porter and Darra Williamson

When I first started quilting, I wasn’t really a fan of Sunbonnet Sue. One of the quilt groups online had a block swap and Sue was the block chosen.  It was only then that I fell in love with the simplicity and charm of Sunbonnet Sue.

A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue is a block-of-the-month style pattern book. The book contains twelve individual wall hanging patterns.   All of the instructions for the wall quilts are in the book, but there is also an address online at the Martingale Publisher’s site with full instructions for a seasonal 4-block quilt and for a full 12-block quilt.    

So, what is different about this Sunbonnet Sue book?  Each block has a “The Fabrics Make the Quilt Section.”  The book explains fully how to find the best fabrics for each block design.   It has detailed instructions on everything from preparing for the appliqué all the way through binding the quilts.  Full-sized patterns for each piece are included. There are wonderful little tips scattered throughout the book that show special attention to detail, such as instruction for cutting the pieces with consideration to grain of fabric.

The would be a perfect book for in-person or online quilt groups wanting to do a block-of-the-month.  Also for all skill level quilters, or to make a quilt for a special child.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Little Box of Baby Quilts by Jenny Wilding Cardon

Instead of a hard cover book, this is a wonderful group of baby quilt pattern booklets in a decorative and very sturdy little box that end-closes with a magnet.  I love it!

There are 20 patterns for quilts that are not only appropriate for babies, but also for older children. There is a Checkerboard Game Quilt that is suggested as a gift for an older child expecting a new brother or sister.   There are both pieced and appliquéd quilts patterns, and all appear to be easy to advanced-beginner skill levels.  There is a truck pattern that is completely pieced, an appliquéd piggie pattern, and an easy log cabin. There is a Baby Essentials Pocket Quilt that would be a nice wall quilt that has pockets to hold all those baby items that need to be at reach.

There is a folder for basic quilt instructions that explains the running stitch, satin stitch appliqué stitch and the whipstitch.  It also explains and diagrams thread basting and pin basting.  Also included are hand and machine quilt basics and, of course, binding the quilt. 

I always like something a little different so I really enjoy these patterns in the box.  This is part of a series of “Little Box” titles.  This Martingale Publishing series includes: Crocheted Bags, Crocheted Hats and Scarves, Crocheted Ponchos and Wraps, Knitted Throws, Quilter’s Desserts, Scarves, Scarves II, and Sweaters, and, of course, The Little Box of Baby Quilts.

Two Bits Four Bits by Mark Cotton link for Two Bits Four Bits by Mark Cotton

The main character is a likeable and interesting former homicide detective not quite sure what he wants for his future.  He returns to his hometown for a reunion and to tie up some family matters.  When the husband of a classmate is murdered, Buddy finds himself in the middle of the investigation. 

I enjoyed the detail of some of the detective work that Mark Cotton provided in this mystery.  Most mysteries overlook those details and just go for action, but I enjoyed getting immersed in the creative work of a detective. 

There are many characters in Two Bits Four Bits that I see in regularly in small town America. I especially enjoyed the addition of the three older guys that met at the local restaurant every morning for coffee and gossip.  

This is a good mystery with several suspects that reaches a satisfying conclusion.   Buddy is a character that you look forward to seeing in a book series and I hope more are in the works.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Cholesterol Delusion by Ernest N. Curtis, M.D.

Well, talking about bucking the system!!  Ernest N. Curtis, M.D. comes along and dares to contradict the current thought that cholesterol is going to kill us all.  The Cholesterol Delusion is a very interesting report on one of the top medical drug-types being prescribed today.  The author takes the time to break down the science into language the non-medical public can understand. He also includes a section on how to make sense of a medical journal report, and several journal reports are included in the book.    

Dr. Curtis’ description of what really happens with a blocked artery is far different than those cute little commercials that the drug company runs explaining how all those little particles are choking my heart!   It is shocking to find out how the testing is evaluated when little evidence shows the results the drug companies report.   

I am not quite ready to pitch my statin drugs, but I am ready to do some more research to on the subject.  I confess that upon finishing the book I made myself a breakfast of bacon and eggs!  I would recommend The Cholesterol Delusion to anyone taking any type of maintenance or preventative prescription drugs.  
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