My August reading was totally focused on finding good vacation books so the list might seem a little different than usual. The result is a mixed bag. My favorites are Those Who Wish Me Dead and The Rachel Project. My least favorite was Life On The Edge because it was way over my head.
Gideon's Sword by Preston and Child - I loved the Pendergast series until Cold Vengeance. They made that book a "half book" by continuing it to another book to be published a year later. It annoyed me so much that I haven't read anything else from them. I thought it might be time to try again and selected this series. It's flat out awful.
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese - I stuck with it for about 15 hours and just had to quilt. There's no way that Oprah read and liked this book. This is the second Verghese book that I've quilt on. I won't try a third. They are both just dull and a drudgery to read.
What are the best books that you read this month?
By Kate Morton, Read By Clare Foy
I saved this book specifically for my 2-day trip to Maine and it kept me good company for the drive.
It's 2018 and Jess is called home to Australia from London because her beloved Grandmother, Nora, is sick and in hospital. Jess was mostly raised by her Grandmother because her mother, Polly, was quite absent as she was growing up.
At Nora's home Jess discovers a decades old true crime book that tells the story of a murder-suicide on Christmas Eve 1959. The victims were Nora's sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.
In typical Kate Morton style, the story moves back and forth in time revealing the crime, activities leading up to the crime and Nora's actions afterward as Jess is making discoveries of her own in current time.
It's probably not the best Kate Morton book but the character development is good, the story is good and I enjoyed my drive much more because I had this to listen to.
The narrator gets a lot of criticism on the Audible app but I thought she did a fine job. I had no complaints.
By Emily Henry, Read By Julia Whelan
If you like romance books that are like the Hallmark Channel but with spice then this is the book for you. It's not particularly my genre but this one has gotten a lot of press and I needed a palette cleanser after The Covenant of Water disappointment.
Books have defined Nora Stephen's life in every possible way from the most important memories of her late mother to her current job as a book agent. She's also dedicated her life to looking out for her younger sister who is now a mother of 2, soon to be 3. Before the baby is born, Libby wants Nora to take a month-long trip to Sunshine Fall, NC, the setting for Libby's favorite romance novel by one of Nora's authors.
Nora is surprised to run into one of her publishing rivals, Charlie Lastra, in this small town. Sparks fly as they are thrown together many times over the weeks ahead.
You know the rest. It's a cute book and was fine entertainment for 2 days.
By R. F. Kuang, Read By Helen Laser
June Hayward and Athena Lui were classmates at Yale and both aspiring authors. At the opening of the story Athena has made it big and June is still struggling to get her writing career off the ground. One night, while having dinner, Athena chokes and dies. June steals her most recent manuscript and publishes it as her own work.
It's not long before people are accusing her of stealing the work, at worst, and cultural appropriation, at the least.
It is not "chilling and hilariously cutting" as described by the publishers summary. It's a sad commentary on our current societal mores. June is not the only "thief" in this tale. As we see every day in the real world, anyone jealous of someone else's success can degrade others with accusations of cultural appropriation, racism, or any other aggression. What I found interesting in the reviews is the general complaint about June is that she's racist. I didn't see her as racist at all. What I saw was a lazy writer with moderate talent who became a thief as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Her stealing that manuscript had nothing to do with racism and everything to do with her general bad character and opportunity. But in today's society everything is racist which, I believe, makes nothing racist. We need to be less lazy in our own criticisms of people. Thieves are thieves, Liars are liars, and racists are racists. Everyone is not racists just because you are offended.
The other aspect of the story is commentary on the publishing world where a small group of people pick the winners and losers and decide what we will be allowed to read. I didn't find any of that surprising or insightful. It's no different from the news, entertainment and music industries. I found the storyline from this aspect to be kind of repetitive and dull.
I didn't particularly enjoy the book but I can see that it would create some very interesting discussions in a book club meeting.
Life on the Edge
By Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili
I like reading non-fiction on vacation for some reason but I may have stepped too far off the edge with this one. The basic premise of this book is to show how quantum mechanics applies to biology. I've read a few books on quantum mechanics and I understand it a little and I think I pick up a little more with each book. But I'll never be conversant in the topic.
This book started out interesting for me as they discussed how certain processes can be expressed in terms of quantum mechanics. These include the internal magnetic compasses of migrating birds, photosynthesis in plants, sense of smell and the enzyme processes of the body. I was pretty good through all of that.
The rest of the book heads off into wild speculations about quantum mechanics and the mutations in genetic code, origins of life, definition of consciousness.
In the end, it got way too complex for me to follow.
Those Who Wish Me Dead
By Michael Koryta
I didn't listen to this book, I actually read it and did it in 2 days.
Jace Wilson is a teenager playing around in quarry and when he dives into the water he discovers a dead body. As he's getting out of the water 2 mens show up with another man, slice his throat and dump him in the quarry too. They see Jace's clothes and realize they have a witness.
The killers will now do anything to get to Jace and prevent him from testifying against them. Jace and his family do not trust the cops so they agree to put Jace in a wilderness program in Montana. They are depending on Ethan and Allison Serbin to protect Jace.
It's not long before they realize where Jace is and the chase begins.
Koryta writes good stories. Lots of action and there were a couple of twists in this one that I did not see coming. It was a fun read.
The Rachel Incident
By Caroline O'Donoghue, Read by Tara Flynn
Rachel is a university student and James is her new co-worker at the local bookstore. They decide to become roommates and, immediately, fast friends.
Rachel has developed a crush for her married professor, Dr. Byrne. Byrne has written a new book and Rachel and James orchestrate a reading at the bookstore as a ruse to throws Rachel into his path. But Dr. Byrne has other desires.
That incident leads to a lot of secrets, compromises and long term effects that play out in the rest of the story. It's all about the inevitable messiness of living a life. It was a good story.
The Lucky Ones
By Mark Edwards, Read By Simon Mattacks
It's been a few years since I read a Mark Edwards book and I really need to have him in my rotation more often. He creates some really interesting characters!
Detective Imogen Evans is called to a murder. The victim, a recent heart transplant recipient and successful antiques dealer is killed just when she is at her happiest. She even dies with a smile on her face. Evans knows she has a serial killer on her hands.
Nearby, Ben Holland's life is finally straightening out. He and his son moved back to his home town to distance himself from his cheating wife and to be near his dying mother. It's been hard to get back on his feet but suddenly things are looking up.
Fast paced, good character development and a couple of twists. Everything you need from a good murder mystery.
Everything I Learned From Falling
By Claire Nelson
I read this one in hardback as a vacation read. Claire Nelson was hiking in Joshua Tree National Park when she fell and shattered her pelvis. She was off the trail and she wasn't sure if anyone would realize she was missing. She spent 3 nights in the desert and this is her survival story.
It was pretty interesting. One thing we've noticed when hiking that almost all of the solo hikers are women. Honestly, it's just plain stupid to hike alone but even dumber to not tell people when/where you are going and not leave a note on your car about when you left and where you went.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota
By J. Ryan Stradal, Read By Judith Ivey
This is one quirky and fun story. I don't' know how I found it because it's not something I would usually read. But it was a fun light vacation read and the narrator nailed the Minnesota accent.
Two sisters are emotionally separated when their father leaves the proceeds from the family farm to the younger sister, Helen, to help her start a brewery. The older sister, Edith is an award-winning baker but she and her husband struggle to make a living. When Edith's daughter and son-in-law die in a car crash, she takes in her Granddaughter, Diana. Diana eventually earns a shot at brewing an IPA. Will beer bring the family back together?
It's a fun story about family and beer. There's a lot of information about beer, which I didn't mind at all. The characters are likable and the story is told in a nice mid-western manner. It's a fun read.
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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.