I haven't posted in a few days but that's because we are enjoying our last few days in Maine before we head home Friday. We've had one friend visiting with us for a few days and some other friends just arrived in town so we are having a great time catching up with everyone. I'll be back Monday with my August summary and catch up post before I get back on schedule next week.
I've done lots of reading this month and several of the books have been read with my eyes! I have one audiobook and one hardback book almost done. Both should be done by tomorrow but I'll use those to start off the September list.
It was a very good book month. I don't think I hated any book and many of them were very good. I only had one DNF:
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, I just could not get into it
What was your favorite book in August?
By William J. Mann, Read By Christopher Lane
We know that Hollywood is full of corruption and depravity. Through this book we know it's always been that way.
This is the story of the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, head of the Motion Picture Association, in the 1920's. Mann explores everything that was going on in Hollywood at that time and profiles all of the key players in the industry and the many possible suspects for the crime.
If you like true crime I think you will like this. If you like Hollywood history you will also like this. It's quite detailed and very well researched.
The Crow Trap
By Ann Cleeves, Read By Anne Dover
I'm a fan of Cleeves' Shetland series (book and TV) so I was excited to find that there was another series that I could start. It's not a new series, just new to me.
Three women, all with some sort of baggage, are teamed up to perform and environmental assessment for a proposed mine. One of the team members soon finds her friend, Bella, has committed suicide. Shortly thereafter, one of the team members is murdered. Detective Vera Stanhope is called in to investigate.
Cleeves' books are so unique in the mystery genre. She keeps her "world" small and the stories focus on the local people, not politics or big issues. Everything is personal. I'm looking forward to diving into book 2. There are 9 books in the series so far.
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
By Tom Standage, Read By Sean Runnette
We picked this book to listen to on our drive to Maine and it was a good choice. We both like history but you don’t want to be listening to dry history while driving. The premise of the book is that 6 drinks played pivotal roles on the history of civilization: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola. The story starts about 3000 BCE with the first recorded making of beer. I expect that this book came out of some sort of college course where a professor was trying his best to make history interesting. This was a good way to do it. I expect that it’s a weak book to the serious historian but for the rest of us it’s a lot of fun and very interesting.
The Girl With the Louding Voice
By Abi Dare’ Read By Adjoa Andoh
Adunni is a poor young girl in Nigeria who loves school but after her mother dies the family falls on even more financial hardship. To financially recover, her father sells her to a local chieftan at the age of 14 to be his new wife. Adunni never gives up her desire to have a “louding voice” (be independent). The book is about her struggles to survive in unimaginable circumstances. Honestly, it’s a brutal read but Adunni’s spirit and hope keeps you interested and always rooting for her.
I picked up this book for 2 reasons. First, I heard a podcast where Taubes was interviewed about another book, Good Calories, Bad Calories and during the interview he mentioned this book about Cold Fusion. He was an interesting interview so I wanted to get his books. (I also picked up Good Calories, Bad Calories and I'm almost done with it.) My second reason for getting this book, published in 1993, was that I vividly remember reading all the hoopla about Cold Fusion in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I had just started reading the Wall Street Journal regularly and they covered this "miraculous" discovery heavily. Coverage disappeared a few months later and I’ve always wondered what happened with that supposed miracle of free energy. What happened was that it was a fraud.
This is not the best written book I’ve ever read but it sure gives you are vivid picture into the politics and money focus of science. I’ve read enough of the detail studies on various modern science topics to view everything I read in the media regarding scientific research with a giant dose of skepticism. This book shows how science sausage is made and it’s not pretty.
An American Marriage
By Tayari Jones, Narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis
Celeste and Roy are young newlyweds living the American Dream in Atlanta when Roy is wrongly accused and sentenced for rape. As his time behind bars extends longer than their marriage, the relationship is strained. The telling of the story starts and ends with the recitation of letters and everything in between comes across as diary entries with each character telling a chapter. I think the premise is very interesting. What happens to a couple or family when one of the members is in jail, falsely accused? This story is told through a black family but I felt that race was a non-factor to the telling. From that perspective I felt that the book was really successful. It can speak to any audience. But, that said, it did fall a little flat for me and I did not like the Celeste character. I felt that for someone who constantly professed herself to be a strong and independent woman, she had a very weak backbone and much of the trouble was actually caused by her own lack of action. The flatness I attribute to the structure being told through letters and monologues from individual characters. In the end, it had a ton of potential, is worth a read for something different but it misses some punch.
The Dance of Life – The New Science of How a Single Cell Becomes a Human Being
By Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz and Roger Highfield, read in hardback, I don't recommend audio for this one
This book is part autobiography and part science book. Dr. Zernicka-Goetz is super smart and is a developmental biologist studying embryo development. This book is her personal story as well as a lot of detail about the advances that have been made (by her and others) in embryonic research. Part of it creeps me out about what we might be able to do soon but part of it gives me some comfort that we aren’t as far along as people might think. I do think that we are headed for some serious contemplations about defining the beginning of life and that will have ethical consequences for research and women’s rights vs the rights of the unborn. This book gave me lots of food for thought.
The personal stuff was OK but I don’t think knowing anything about her marriages really added anything to the book. While reading the book I noted the high percentage of women that she has hired in her labs. At the end of the book, she had a chapter on diversity and inclusion in science and I got the impression that she purposely favors female applicants to her labs. I don’t have an opinion about that, I just thought it was interesting. I also thought that the last chapter seemed a little forced as though an editor suggested that she add it to make the unavoidable ethical discussions about embryonic development more palatable. That may be totally unfair, it's jut my take on it. That last chapter seemed to be an unnecessary addition.
If you like science books you will like this one and you will appreciate reading about research done right.
The Rose Code
By Kate Quinn, Read By Saskia Maarleveld
This is my third Quinn book. She weaves great stories about the hidden female heroes of WWII. This one tells the story of the women code breakers of Bletchley Park. Our heroines are Osla, a Canadian debutante who is dating Prince Philip; Mab, a self-made girl from the poverty of East London; and Beth, a local spinster with an overbearing mother who is brilliant at solving crossword puzzles. Beth becomes one of the few female cryptanalysts, Osla is a German translator, and Mab works on the codebreaking machines. We also meet Alan Turing and other legends of Bletchley Park.
Three years after the war, and no longer friends, Beth contacts them through code to ask for their help. The story switches back and forth in time smoothly. It was a fun read with a great ending.
The Power Couple
By Alex Berenson, Read By Steven Weber and Marin Ireland
Alex Berenson is the author of the John Wells spy series that I like. This book isn’t John Wells.
Rebecca and Brian Unsworth have great jobs with the government. She’s with the FBI and he’s with NSA. They’ve been married 20 years and have had their problems but everything seems good now and they are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary with their two children on a trip to Europe. One night in Barcelona, their daughter, Kira, doesn’t return home. Over the weekend they try everything to find their daughter but discover that she's been kidnapped. They are trying to figure out why and where she is and, meanwhile, Kira tries everything to get away from her captors.
As I was reading the first half of the book I was focused on the kidnapping and was a little off balance with the telling of so much of Rebecca and Brian’s backstory. Then I realized what the story was really about and the second half really took off. It’s a different kind of book and I enjoyed it.
Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
By Gary Kinder, hardback
I think I discovered this book when I was reading a fiction novel that contained a storyline about the sinking of the SS Central America in 1857. Chris and I were living in Norfolk in the late 1980’s when a deep ocean explorer found the wreck and recovered millions in gold. I remember the news stories but wasn't all that interested. I found out about this book and decided to read about the effort to find the ship.
This is one of the most interesting books that I’ve read in a long time. I was completely riveted. It reads almost like a novel and tells the whole story about Tommy Thompson, his life, his genius, his fortitude and his total dedication to finding the SS Central America. The book is thoroughly researched and also tells the complete story of that last voyage. I remember reading the news accounts when the treasure was brought into Norfolk but I had no idea of the years of work, courage and ingenuity that went into the effort.
This book was published in 1998 so if you want a copy you will need to find it on the used market. By the way, Tommy Thompson is now in jail for contempt of court for not following through on an agreement to produce 500 gold coins from the ship. He claims that he doesn’t know where they are. The whole story is good for some research time on the internet, especially to see the underwater photos of the wreck.
The Summer Without You
By Karen Swan, Read By Katie Scarfe
Rowena Tipton has a great life in London with her boyfriend of 13 years. She expects that they will get engaged soon when he suddenly announces that he's going on a 6 month tour of Cambodia and expects the time away to make their love even stronger. (No modern woman would buy this drivel, IMHO)
It just so happens that Rowena has dual citizenship in the US and is invited to a wedding in NYC. That wedding leads to an invitation to spend the summer in The Hamptons on Long Island. (Yeah, that happens to someone every day!) She takes up the offer and is off on a summer of self discovery and sets up her "Family Media" business to cover her rent.
It was a fine summer read but Rowena is so annoyingly naïve and socially blind that you want to slap her periodically. For the first several weeks she only wears her boyfriend's clothing. In the Hamptons? Are you kidding me? Can you tell that this book annoyed me a little. It seems a perfect foundation for a Hallmark channel movie.
By Ruth Downie, Read By Simon Vance
This is book 7 in the Roman Empire series. The Medicus, Russo, and his wife, Tilla have been offered a medical position in Rome. It seems grand until he discovered that his predecessor, Doctor Kleitos, left town quickly and with everything and someone has left a dead body in a barrel outside his office.
He's also besieged by Kleitos' debt collectors and the sudden death of the local land owner (his sponsor). He and Tilla need to solve these mysteries before they also become victims.
I really enjoy this series set in Roman times. They can be read separately but I think they are best read in order.
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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.