,I think I mentioned a few months ago that I finally found Overdrive and the capability to download audiobooks from my local library free. That's very enticing and I've used it for a half dozen books or more so far. My library doesn't have a huge audiobook selection although I think the adjacent county does and I can get a library card there and would have access to lots more books. The thing is that I'm not all that motivated because with Overdrive, you get what you pay for. The Overdrive app is incredibly clunky compared to the Audible app. It's a pain to search for books and the app has several behavioral quirks, like the need to "re-synch" every time I turn it on.
I'm completely spoiled with Audible and now I know that a large chunk of the money that I spend on books is going to maintaining the technology that lets me enjoy them. Everything abut Audible is more robust and intuitive. On Overdrive I always have trouble even getting to the book to listen to it once it's downloaded. But the worst is what happened with the first book on my review this month: Grant. This book is 48 hours long! It's no surprise that I couldn't finish it in the 7-day loan period that I accidentally selected. On the expiration day I get no option to extend my loan, the book simply stops working. I had 10 hours left and the book was available so there's no reason for the app to not have an extension option for books not on waiting lists. To finish the book I have to download the entire 48 hours again and then skip to chapter 36. That is annoying!
I'm continue to use Overdrive some but it's not going to put Audible out of business.
My favorite books this month are 3 books by two of my "old reliable" authors: William Kent Krueger and Carl Hiaasen. What good books have you read this month?
Grant by Ron Chernow
Narrated by Mark Branhall
One of my favorite books of all time is Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. I also loved The House of Morgan and The Warburgs. His books are always thoroughly researched and exacting in the telling of the story. they are also always long. Grant takes the prize coming in at 48 hours. It is also being categorized as my least favorite Chernow book.
Ulysses Grant is a fascinating man and one of the most important figures in American history through his efforts to win the Civil War and the actions he took as President. We, as a nation, have a lot to be grateful to him for. That said, he simply isn't nearly as interesting a person as Hamilton. He was a very devoted family man, he might or might not have had a binge drinking issue, he was probably the most racial-equality minded person of his time and he was too loyal to friends when selecting cabinet members and aids. Those are the main points that I took from a book that tells EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of the man's life. Studying every single battle of the war was really not necessary to get the measure of the man and I thought it was overkill. But then, I'm a casual history student. This is a scholarly book and if you are into that you will love this one.
As I mentioned above, Overdrive was brutal with the expiration date and deleted the book from my phone with 10 hours left. He was conquering the KKK (the original one, not the 1930's version) when the book got deleted from my device. I was so fatigued from listening to such minutiae that I decided not to download it again to finish. I would have finished it if I had purchased it on Audible but I'm not sad that I didn't.
Mercy Falls and Copper River
By William Kent Krueger, Narrated by David Chandler
After Grant I needed something more entertaining to read and selected the 5th book in the Cork O'Connor series, Mercy Falls. A Chicago businessman has been murdered in Tamarack County and Cork is investigating. Simple enough except the man is from a very wealthy family and the man's brother was once involved with Cork's wife. He does determine who committed the murder but by then his own life, and his family's, is in danger and the book ends with him escaping town.
That's why I immediately started reading Copper River. (Plus it was in the middle of Mom's move and I didn't want to have to think about what book to read next.) Continuing with Cork O'Connor seemed the best approach and I'm glad I did. It's not totally necessary to read these 2 close together because Copper River is a completely different story. Cork is hiding out with his cousin in a tiny Michigan town. The cousin's son and a friend saw a dead body in the river that turns out to be a homeless teen. Cork exposes himself to help investigate......there's also a cougar.
I like the Cork O'Connor series a lot and will keep with it.
By Carl Hiaasen, Narrated By George Wilson
Carl Hiaasen is such a clever writer. All of his books are absurdly hilarious and I love them. They are all set in Florida and all feature corrupt politicians in some way. This story starts with a nutty congressman and his infatuation with a topless dancer. When a customer on a bachelor weekend tries to engage with the stripper the congressman attacks him with a champagne bottle. That sets off a series of hilarious event and includes a custody battle between the stripper and her ex-husband, a wheelchair thief, raising wolves as pets, boa constrictors, competing strip bars and any number of other story lines. It's crude, but very funny if you are into this kind of book.
By Liz Moore, Narrated by Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
Have you ever watched an episode of Hoarders? It starts out kind of fascinating but devolves into sadness and hopelessness pretty quickly. The people portrayed are pretty much too far gone. But at then end there seems to be a tiny strand of hope.
Well, that's sort of the feeling reading this book. Arthur is a former professor but has been home bound for a decade and has ballooned to about 500 lbs. Charlene is a former student of Arthur's and over the past 20 years they have corresponded regularly but have not seen each other even though they live only 20 miles apart. Charlene is in about the same shape as Arthur but she has a son, Kel, who is a high school senior.
This book is supposedly about the last letter that Charlene writes to Arthur that will set off a series of events but it's really not that clear. Heft is a heavy story, told in a lumbering manner that made me feel like I was carrying around a weight and I couldn't wait to end it. After the long slog I was disappointed in the ending. I felt it needed to be carried forward a little more. In fact, I uttered a bit of profanity at the end because I felt that I had slogged through the story for so long that I deserved to spend a little time in the recently cleaned house just to see if the hoarder was really cured.
This book has received a lot of outstanding reviews and some awards so you might try it for yourself but my next book needs to be a palate cleanser.
By Ruth Downie, Narrated by Simon Vance
If you enjoy historical fiction this is a nice series. They are all set during the Roman Empire but each book is stand alone. You get a little background from previous books but Ruth Downie does a nice job of writing stand-alone stories.
In this one Ruso and his wife, Tulla, have moved to Britannia where he's been promised work. He expects it to be medical work but instead it's sleuthing work. He's tasked with finding a missing tax collector.
Interesting story and excellent narration. I always like books narrated by Simon Vance.
The Echo Man
By Richard Montanari, Narrated y Scott Brick
This is the 4th book in the Byrne and Balzano series. Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne are detectives in Philadelphia and they are investigating another serial killer. This time the victims are all placed and posed in the same was as a victim of a previous cold case.
Montanari's trademark is serial killers who are very meticulous, purposeful, deranged and very evil. The stories are complex and you have to play close attention to all characters. This one was particularly comnvoluted with the overlay of a music composition theme. It wrapped up quickly and I'm not sure if I was glad to have it end or annoyed that I felt cheated. It was a little of both, I think.
Also, Scott Brick is the narrator. I used to love Scott Brick. He was one of my favorites but he's starting to grate on me. He narrates every character as if they are carrying a chip on their shoulder. There was a particular passage in this book where Byrne and Balzano were having a light-hearted conversation but Brick narrated the conversation with so much condescension and attitude that I think he made the conversation have a totally different meaning. I don't know if I'll read more of this series.
By R E McDermott, Narrated By Tom Haberkom
This is the 1st in the Tom Dugan series. I was excited to find a new "mystery and intrigue" series. This series is compared to Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy. The main character, Tom Dugan, is a part-time CIA operative and this time he's called to infiltrate his friend's shipping company to fin out who has caused 2 shipping disasters. It sounded like it had the making of a great new series.
Sadly, in my opinion, it's not near the quality of Vince Flynn. This book needs some serious editing. There are too many characters and too many stories within the story. For example, there's a side story line where the shipping company owner is being framed and threatened with his handicapped daughter's life. The story would have worked just fine without the absolutely absurd kidnapping and recovery tale of the daughter. In another example, the CIA calls a police officer in Panama directly to ask for assistance. In the real world that would never happen the way it's told but his way of telling it makes the story efficient to write. But it doesn't make it a good story. I won't be exploring this series any further.
The narrator is really good though and that's what got me through the book.
4/30/2018 01:48:18 pm
My library uses the Libby app by Overdrive. Is that what you're using? I find it pretty easy to use. I can tag the books I've read or want to read, and make my own tags such as what order I want to read them in. I have 3 different library cards on the one app, and I can go back and forth to search each library. The selection is decent, but often a series is not complete, and they don't have all the bestsellers. I can easily renew the books if I haven't finished them as long as I don't wait until it has already been sent back on the due date. I can request a book that's already checked out, just like regular library books, and they send it to me when it's available. It is a fantastic free opportunity, although definitely not as many choices as paid audiobook programs. I've decided I'll start paying for books after I can't find anything else interesting to listen to at the library. Lately I've enjoyed the Danish crime series about Detective Carl Morck by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Cherie in St Louis
4/30/2018 02:48:22 pm
I use overdrive and do not have the problems you've listed. If a book expires and I do not delete if from my bookshelf, all I have to do is check it out again and it resumes playing from where I left off without having to download again. I also don't have any trouble when opening the app...no re-syncing. I agree it's not nearly as nice as Audible but still pretty easy to use. Might be a technical problem? I love your book reviews and that your reading spans lots of categories :) My current favorite is Allan Furst.
4/30/2018 04:13:21 pm
I'm currently enjoying a Bosch novel, rec by you and have added a few more loan requests with this recent review, Vince Flynn specifically. Thanks
5/1/2018 09:59:26 am
My library uses Overdrive also. I make pretty good use of it. While our reading choices are usually quite different, I am going to check out Carl Hiaasen's books that are available to me on overdrive. I was surprised to find that he writes children's books also.
Mary Lou Melkowski
5/1/2018 09:27:15 pm
My library uses Overdrive and Cloud Library. I use both but prefer Cloud Library. I think they have a much larger selection. I think if you enjoy William Kent Krueger you will also enjoy C.J. Box. The Joe Pickett series is set in Wyoming and Joe is a game warden who is always encountering very bad people. He spends so much time in those mountains I feel like have actually walked those mountains and valleys with him.
5/2/2018 12:59:06 pm
As always, I enjoy your book reviews. This time there are a couple of authors I plan to check into at our library.
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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.