A whole month of quarantine means a whole lot of reading! I finished 14 books this month and like always, some are winners and some are duds.
I loved both non-fiction books: Capitalism vs Socialism and Cured. In fiction my favorites were The Rosie Project, Cleopatra's Daughter, The Gown and Redemption Point.
Are you also getting in a lot of extra reading these days? What can you recommend to us this month?
The Perfect Alibi
By Phillip Margolin, Read By Therese Plummer
This is the second book in the Robin Lockwood series. I read the first one last month and put this one on hold. The app said I would get it in about 4 weeks and it was available 3 days later! That's one of the downfalls of books from the library, you have to read them when you get them.
Robin Lockwood is not the lead attorney in a prestigious small law firm since the managing partner has taken medical leave for early Alzheimers. Robin is now on her own. In this book she is representing a rape victim in a civil lawsuit and defending another client against a murder charge that should be self-defense. The cases might be linked.
The book is shorter than my usual 10 hour minimum but I'll take that for a Margolin book. The plot seems plausible and the cases are complex. It was a fun read.
I've put the 3rd one on hold with a wait time of 9 weeks. But I'm sure I'll get it sooner since all of us readers are devouring books during our world-wide lockdown.
The Great Courses: Capitalism vs. Socialism
BY Professor Edward Stuart
I love the Great Courses and this one did not disappoint. I starts with good background on the economic philosophers (Adams, Keynes, Marx, Friedman) and then takes you on a tour of world economies that have followed or follows some form of capitalism or socialism and the consequences of each.
It's very interesting and, I believe, the most unbiased presentation of economic theories that we could possibly as for.
By Michelle Moran, Read By Wanda McCaddon
Michelle Moran has a real talent for taking a bare bones structure of events and building it into a complete story. The first book I read of her's was Madame Tussaud and it was outstanding. This one was very good too.
Little is known about the daughter of Cleopatra, Cleopatra Selene, other than she was taken to Rome, raised by Octavia and eventually married to Juba and made Queen of Mauretania. Moran fills in a colorful story of Cleopatra Selene's life. The characters are well developed but it's not suspenseful, it's just the story of a girl's life but I enjoyed it.
A Duty to Defend
By Charles Todd, Read By Rosalyn Landor
This is the 1st book in the Bess Crawford series. It's set in WWI and Bess is a nurse. One of her patients (on his deathbed) asked her to deliver a message to his brother. Shortly after she is on a shop that's sunk by a mine and she has a broken arm. During her recovery she decided to head off to this soldier's home to deliver the message and there the mystery begins.
Todd has another series set in WWI based on an Inspector, Ian Rutledge, who has shell shock. Neither of them are really doing anything for me. This book was good but so much of what she did seemed so way out of character for a woman of that time.
Big Lies in a Small Town
By Diane Chamberlain, Read by Susan Bennett
In 2018, Morgan Christopher is in jail for a crime that she didn't commit. She is surprisingly paroled with an offer to restore an old post office mural in Edenton, NC. The mural was painted by artist, Anna Daly in 1940 who won a national contest to paint the mural. The mural was never hung but a local artist had it his will calls for the mural to be restored by Christopher and completed by a specific date.
The book goes back and forth in time to tell both Anna and Morgan's stories. It's well written and has the expected theme of Southern racism and prejudice against people who are "different" in general.
This is the second book I've read from Chamberlain. She's great at character development and immersing her reader into the story. I find the plots a little predictable (in this one it was a lot predictable) and tired. But I like the characters enough that I'm willing to stick it out with them.
By Jeffrey Rediger, Read by Jeffrey Rediger
I am very interested in some medical topics and especially about the inner-workings of the human body and our ability to heal ourselves. The best book I've read on the topic is Cure by Jo Marchant. It was so good that I read it twice back to back.
This book is, in theory, a great follow up to Cure as it delves deeper into some of the aspects of self-healing that were introduced in Cure. It's full of great information but you are going to have to do some work to get through it.
I think that Dr. Rediger is a control freak because he desperately needed to turn this book over to a professional editor and professional narrator. His narration and the production quality is awful. Th ebook is a little choppy and there are probably too many personal anecdotes.
All that said, it was full of really valuable information and planted some ideas to explore. It was worth tolerating the performance to get the information.
By Dervla McTiernan,Read By Aoife McMahon
This sis the second book in the Cormac Reilly series. I read the first one, The Ruin, last month and this one became available at the library pretty quickly. In this one Reilly's girlfriend, Emma, is a researcher at Galway University and discovers the body of a dead girl near campus. Reilly winds up on the case simply because Emma called him first. He's still personal non grata in his squad. The girl carries the ID of Carline Darcy, the granddaughter of Darcy Therapeutics and the sponsor of Emma's research.
Like the first novel, I have mixed feelings. It's a good plot but everyone has a side grievance or secret story and it gets difficult to track. But I loved listening to the Irish lilt of the narrator.
The Rosie Project
By Graeme Simsion, Read By Dan O'Grady
As the quarantine was starting and friend and I exchanged book recommendations. She recommended this one and a book called Year Zero by Rob Reid. I got about 2 hours into Year Zero and I just couldn't take it anymore. There was nothing funny about it. I texted her to give her a hard time about it and she said that she had given up on the book too. After listening to The Rosie Project I've reinstated her book recommendation rights. What a cute and funny book.
Don Tillman is a professor of genetics who can easily be imagined at Sheldon Cooper. He had very bad luck with dating and has decided to set out to find a mate with some very rigid criteria and so begins The Wife Project. Rosie Jarman is a smoker and bartender and is always late for everything. She's not wife material but he agrees to help her with The Father Project. You can guess how it ends. It's enjoyable and funny. I'm not inclined to read any of the other books int he series because I don't see these 2 characters making a sequel not that I know their personalities. It's easy enough to see how it would play out.
By Jennifer Robson, Read By Marisa Calin
In 1947 in London the designer Norman Hartnell was commissioned to make Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown. This story uses that as a backdrop for the story of the embroiders who worked on the gown. It follows them through that year and then 40 years later when one of the women dies in Toronto and her granddaughter finds some lace samples.
It's a really nice story with very well developed characters. The pace was good and the transition between times was handled very well. I will definitely look for other books by Robson.
By Linwood Barclay, Read By Quincy Dunn Baker and Brian O'Neil
This is the first book in a trilogy set in the town of Promise Falls, NY. It's supposed to be a mystery. David Harwood and his 11 year old son ahve moved back into his parent's home in PF. One day his cousin Marla is found to have a baby and there's a spot of blood on the front door of Marla's house. Instead of calling the police he gets Marla in the car to find the baby's home (from a convenient piece of paper in the baby's stroller with the address). At the home they discover the mother dead in the house.
I like Barclay's books but I did not get this one. The hapless characters were so absurd and cliche (police detective is obsessed with donuts, super sleezy politician, hard ass bitchy female hospital administrator) that it felt more like a Carl Hiassen book than a serious mystery, except that Hiassen is a better writer. The mystery was really easy to figure out so the rest of the book was just hopping around several unrelated and unresolved story lines that are lead ins to the second and third books. It's been a long time since I've rolled my eyes as much as I did while listening to this book.
By Candace Fox, Read By Euan Morton
This is the second in the Crimson Point series set in Australia. You have to read this series in order so read Crimson Point first where Ted Concaffee and Amanda Pharrell are first introduced. Ted is a former police officer who was wrongly convicted of abducting and raping a young girl. He's out of prison and trying to get his life back together. Amanda is a convicted murderer from when she was in school. They are both trying to get their lives back together and their shared attorney put them together to do private investigations. In this book they are continuing to investigate the crime Ted was accused of but they have also been hired to investigate 2 murders at a local bar.
I'm really enjoying this series and I liked the second book even better than the first. The bonus to this is the lovely Aussie narration by Euan Morton. I'm looking forward to the 3rd book in the series.
By Jacqueline Winspear, Read By Rita Barrington
This is the 1st book in the Maisie Dobbs detective series. The story is set before, during and after WWI. At 13 Maisie get a job in service at a manor house. She gets up early in the morning to sneak into the library to study the books. One day the mistress of the house finds her studying Latin with a private tutor. The book actually opens 10 years later, in 1929, when she is starting her own detective agency and getting her first case.
It's an interesting story but I hated the way it was told. About 1/3 through the book the investigation story ends abruptly and we are transported to 1910 when she gets that job and we then follow her through the war for about another 3rd of the book and just as suddenly we are back on the investigation. It's seriously like 2 shorter stories smashed together in one book. Maybe that transition works better in print but I found it all too jarring. The mystery isn't much of a mystery but it's an interesting perspective on the ravages of war. I doubt I'll read any more in this series.
A Week In Winter
By Maeve Binchy, Read By Rosalyn Landor
I can't remember how I came across this book but I'm thinking that it might have been one of your blogs. I like finding new books from other's book reviews.
This story is set in the west of Ireland on the coast. Chicky Starr has returned from America to remodel an old dilapidated mansion into a B&B. The story is focused on each character that works at the B&B and the guests that arrive for the opening week: a week in winter. It comes across more as a group of short stories. Each character's life is told in turns and we find out what bad decisions/luck/events have brought them to Stone House. Each character's story ends just after they arrive at Stone House and their personal dilemma is resolved. So it's really not about the week at all. While the characters interact, it's not a story about that week, the house or the local area. It's 80% about the background of each of these characters.
It's an light and easy read. Not a lot of pain or drama. It actually reminded me of that old TV show, Fantasy Island. Take Fantasy Island and put it on the Hallmark Channel and you have this book.
By Brina Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson, Read By Ray Porter
This is the 5th book in the Tier One series. Ember is like a secret version of the Navy SEALs and John Dempsey is the mission leader. They vanquished their Islamic enemies in the last book so this time they are focused squarely on Russia and the Russian equivalent of Ember, called Zeta.
There's a lot of tough talk, secret nicknames, magical technology and killing. Everyone has personal demons that they manage by getting themselves into impossible situations. Lots of action, adventure and blood. My one complaint is that there seems to be more and more macho conversation and magical survival and less and less actual strategy and zero questioning of collateral damage. The books are getting a little too formulaic for me.
4/30/2020 02:49:07 pm
That was a lot of books. I did not read/listen to any. With the library being closed I am behind on the materials I would like to borrow. Maybe they will be opening soon.
5/1/2020 06:33:21 am
Just finished What We Forgot to Bury by Marin Montgomery and would recommend it - told from two different perspectives and the view changes in each chapter. Really kept my interest. I've downloaded the first Candace Fox book, so hope I like it as much as you did.
I loved Rosie Project too! I enjoy Maeve Binchy, and I think I have that one on my to-be-read shelf. I have the second Maisie Dobbs to read, and I thought the same thing about the first one - and I read in print. I hate long flashbacks, I want them to just tell the story in chronological order.
Mary Lou Melkowski
5/1/2020 09:05:26 am
I highly recommend The Gilded Hour and Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati read in that order. The main characters are 2 female doctors and the setting is New York in 1883. There were very few female doctors and a lot of bias toward them. I enjoy historical fiction and there was a lot of the history of medicine and how diseases were treated back then. There are a lot of characters in the extended families and I hated to leave them behind when I finished the books. You will have to spend a lot of time with these enjoyable people because each book is over 31 hours long.
5/1/2020 12:43:51 pm
I just finished reading, not listening to, The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate, the author of Before We Were Yours. I really enjoyed Lost Friends. It switches between Civil War and modern times with a main character in each time telling her story.
5/1/2020 04:19:21 pm
I like your honest reviews Vicki - thank you. I always find at least one on your list that I'd like to read.
5/1/2020 11:07:18 pm
I enjoyed The Rosie Project, too, and I read (listened to) the rest of the trilogy (The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result) and enjoyed them, as well. You may want to give them a try.
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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.