February was great month for listening to books. Since we've essentially turned off the news, and the rest of the TV programming for that matter, I've had lots of reading time. The more I read the more productive I am and that's all good. As I look back on the list my 2 least favorites were Truevine and On The Couch. Once you read those reviews you will see that I didn't hate either of them. I'd give both a solid C.
Paper and Instanbul were both very good non-fiction books. Truevine is also non-fiction but you'll see that I really didn't love it. All of the fiction books are by authors that I've read before and several are series so I know they would all be good. The best surprise is that Hachette Audio has stopped adding the annoying sound effects to Baldacci's Puller series.
What good books have you read this month? I'm always looking for more books to add to my Audible Wish List. You are also invited to add your opinions about any of these books especially if your opinion is different from mine! When I'm deciding on books I always look at the review and check both the 5-star and the 1-star reviews so I can get a broader perspective. I always invite you do do the same here.
by Beth Macy
I reviewed Beth Macy's first book, The Factory Man, in 2014. When I saw that she had a new book set in the area where I grew up I knew I wanted to read it. This one is a story about George and Willie Muse, two black brothers with albinism born to a sharecropper family. In 1899 they were "captured" by the circus and spent the majority of the rest of their lives performing in freak shows with the circus. They traveled the world. But it's not a wine and caviar life. Their mother spent years looking for them and they were not treated well the first 14 years that they performed...they were basically slave labor.
I love the story of this book and have a deep admiration for the work and years it must have taken to dig out the details of what happened to the Muse brothers. Given that the story begins around 1900 in the poor South, that was a daunting task. My problem with the book is the amount of other information and tedious detail added. The brother's story alone wasn't enough for a book so there's every detail about circus life, the KKK of Roanoke, sharecropper life, the railroad, you name it.
I'm glad I read it because it's a bit of history about the area where I grew up that I didn't know, but I think I would have preferred a magazine article to the rehashing of the racial history, railroad history and development history of the area. In the end I'm not really sure what her underlying objective was in writing the book. Was it to tell the Muse brother's story and everything else was filler or was it a racial history with the Muse brothers as exhibit A. Either way, it was kind of a slog to get through.
No Man's Land
by David Baldacci
This is the 4th book in the John Puller series and my favorite so far. In this book we find out what happened to John Puller's mother 30 years before when she disappeared. It ties in to DARPA research.
This book was so refreshing after the work I had to put into listening to Truevine. This time I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. Even though it's part of a series I think that Baldacci does a good job of making each novel able to stand alone. There's reference to previous books to give foundation to parts of the storyline.
I liked the narrators fine. Orlaugh Cassidy does the female voices (one of which is annoyingly childish) and Kyf Brewer does the male voices. He's good but I don't think his voice is quite tough enough for the Puller character. But they both do a good job of being consistent with each character's voice. The best part about this recording is that there are no sound effects! I hope that's a new trend with Hachette books.
Lying on the Couch
by Irvin D. Yalom
This one should be called "Therapists are people too".
I'm not sure what to say about this book and even less sure why I bought it in the first place. It's a novel set around three therapists and their patients and gives you the thoughts of both parties during therapy sessions. It's more than that but I think the purpose was to show that therapy isn't a one-way street and that sometimes, therapists need therapy too.
I almost gave up early on because I just couldn't get the point of it. I went to Amazon and read some reviews and saw that a lot of the reviewers had to read this as part of their studies to become therapists. That didn't encourage me but I stuck with it and, end the end, it was a pretty good book. I think in the end that it's about the fact that we all need therapy of some kind at some point in our lives and sometimes it's formal and sometimes it's simply a form of meditation.
Blood on the Water
by Anne Perry
When I review books here I review them in the order that I read them and I write the review almost immediately after I finish the book. After a challenging book I always look for something reliable and Anne Perry's William Monk series is reliable.
This is #20 in the series and the investigation is about a pleasure boat that is blown up on the Thames killing over 200 people. Love the characters, love the narration by David Colacci and I love Anne Perry's stories.
Paper: Paging Through History
by Mark Kurlansky
In December I reviewed the book Salt, also by David Kurlansky. I enjoyed that so much that I decided to get this one. Many years ago I took a paper making class and enjoyed it. For a couple of years I made handmade paper note cards and Christmas cards. I still have all of the supplies. That's good because this book got me interested again. This book covers the very earliest paper making to present day electronic replacements for paper. There's also some great information about the history of printing and ink development. If you like history but want it a little on the lighter side you will enjoy this. If you have ever made paper or collect different kinds of paper, you will love this book.
Gods of Guilt
by Michael Connelly
If you have seen the Lincoln Lawyer movie then you are familiar with the basic story line of the Lincoln Lawyer series. Michael Connelly has 2 series. The first is Harry Bosch, a LAPD Detective. In one of those books Mickey Haller, a defense attorney, is introduced as his half brother. I enjoy both series but I've always thought that the Lincoln Lawyer series was the weaker of the two. With this book Connelly has finally brought this series up to match the Bosch series. It's a fun legal thriller with good characters and a fast pace. I was glued to my headphones with this one.
by Thomas Madden
Before reading this book the extent of my knowledge of Isanbul was that it was once called Constantinople. Seriously, that was all I knew about one of the most important cities in history. It covers everything from ancient times forward and it is fascinating.
If you like history you will enjoy this book. It's well written and the narration is good.
The One Man
by Andrew Gross
You have to have a strong stomach for this one but if you do it's worth the ride. The story revolved around rescuing a noted physicist from Auschwitz in WWII. There's one man, who speaks fluent German and Polish who might be able to accomplish it.
This book is intense and there are a couple of times where time is if the essence and we are dragged through a long conversation or thought sequence that just doesn't seem to fit. But that's a small complaint.
I didn't realize until I was writing this that the narrator for this book is the same as Istanbul. It shows his versatility that he can adapt his voice to the story at hand.
The Jury Master
by Robert Dugoni
This is the same author that writes the Tracey Crosswhite series. In The Jury Master he introduces David Sloane, a San Francisco trial lawyer. He's very successful but has recurring nightmares about his childhood that he can't remember. After close friend of the President dies Sloan received a package that starts to unravel his past. It's a very good plot and moves at a fast pace. My only complaint is that Dugoni likes to jump back and forth between scenes right in the middle of the action. Otherwise it's a good book that's very fast paced and lots of death and destruction.
Eye For An Eye
by Ben Coes
I followed one thriller by another. This one brings back one of my favorite covert operatives, Dewey Andreas. In this one some early events in the book prompt China's head of State Security to place a kill order on Dewey. From the first scene to the last the drama doesn't end.
These books are very fast paced with lots of intrigue and violence. Just the kind of book I like to relax with.
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.
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