February was a good month considering that I've been watching a lot of TV instead of listening to books. I finished 10 books and rejected 3 others part way through.
After seeing this list you will understand yesterday's post and my fixation on clearing out more of my own CRAP (Creative Resources and Projects). Secondhand by Adam Minter is a follow up to his outstanding first book, Junkyard Planet. Personally, I think everyone should read both but Secondhand will be the most relatable. It attempts to answer the question "What happens with our stuff when we die?"
The rest of the books are mostly reliable mystery and intrigue series and a couple of new series for me.
What books do you have to recommend this month?
Nothing to See Here
By Kevin Wilson, Read By Marin Ireland
Mom and I had to take a day trip to Roanoke this month and that entails about 6 hours of driving. I picked this book simply because it's about 6 hours long. It's not a horrible story but it's not the laugh riot that some reviewers said. The cover art is really stupid given the content of the book, it in no way reflects the story.
Lillian and Madison were boarding school roommates. Years later Madison is married to a rich politician and Lillian is down on her luck but they keep in touch. Now Madison's step-children are moving in with her just when her husband might become Secretary of State. She asks Lillian to come and take care of the kids for the summer. There's only one problem: the kids catch on fire when they are upset of disturbed.
The plot isn't very deep and the character development is kind of weak but it was an absolutely fine car book.
The Family Upstairs
By Lisa Jewell, Read by Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland, Dominic Thorburn
Told from 3 points of view:
Libby Jones who discovers on her 25th birthday that she's inherited a house in Chelsea (London) from her birth family.
Henry and Lucy - a brother and sister who grew up in the house that was taken over by a cult figure.
Like her other books, this one is told back and forth in time revealing the history as Libby is discovering relevant information. If you like Lisa Jewell you will like this one.
By Jared Diamond, Read By Henry Strozier
I really enjoyed his previous book Guns, Germs and Steel but I had to give up on this one. It's supposed to be about nations in crisis and how they dealt with them. Instead there's way too many personal anecdotes.
I quit after Finland.
By William Kent Krueger, Read By Buck Shirmer
This is #10 in the Cork O'Connor mystery series. I needed something reliable after the let down of Upheaval and Cork O'Connor was just the ticket.
Cork is hired to find a missing art gallery owner and the federal government is proposing using an abandoned mine for nuclear waste storage. During the mine protests it's discovered that the Vermilion Drift shaft has a previously unknown entrance there are a number of bodies discovered, most from a 40 years ago.
Don't Believe It
By Charlie Donlea, Read By Nina Alvamar
This is the third book I've read by Donlea and I'll say that this author can really create a story with twists.
Sidney Ryan created the most watched documentary on TV. The Girl of Sugar beach documents the conviction of Grace Sebold of the murder of her boyfriend, Julian. She's been in a St Lucia jail for 10 years when Sidney takes on her case. Her investigation uncovers issues with the original evidence and case. The public outcry causes Grace to be released just as Sidney receives a letter telling her that she's got it all wrong.
I couldn't put it down.
By Adam Minter, Read By Daniel Henning
I loved Minter's Junkyard Planet so I couldn't wait to listen to Secondhand. I am especially appreciative that he stays out of the politics of environmentalism and instead focuses on hard facts about secondhand trading in things like clothing, electronics and cars. He starts with a question: What happens to people's stuff when they die? The answer is interesting and not straight-forward. He takes us through local thrift stores, Goodwill, electronics recyclers in Ghana, rag processors in Mumbai and secondhand stores in Japan. As in Junkyard Planet, we are reminded that there's good and bad in our consumer society but that free markets are a very efficient way to solve problems, including problems of dealing with waste.
One particular story that I appreciated was his trips to Ghana and explaining the secondhand electronics market there. He tells the real story that journalists got wrong in their sensationalized reports of ewaste dumping. The real story is much more interesting but governments have passed legislation that may cause more environmental harms than good based on the sensational reports.
It's another fascinating read by Minter and everyone interested in conservation should read it.
Murder on Black Swan Lane
By Andrea Penrose, Read By James Cameron Stewart
This is the first book in a new-to-me series set in Regency England. Actually the 3rd, and newest, book in the series came up in an Audible newsletter and as I was looking into it I discovered that I had bought this one in 2017 and never listened to it. I enjoyed it immensely. Fans of Anne Perry would like this series.
Charlotte Sloane draws satirical cartoons under her husband's pen name AJ Quill since he died 8 months ago. She keeps herself afloat along with 2 street urchins that she live with her. The Earl of Wrexford is a bored private scientist who's been publicly condemned by the Reverend Halsworthy. When Halsworthy is found dead Wrexford is the first suspect. He enlists Sloane's help in finding the true killer.
Lots of action, clever dialogue and Dickensian characters. It's perfectly narrated by James Cameron Stewart (Lord Ellesmere in Outlander).
By Ben Coes, Read By Ari Fliakos
This is the 8th book in the Dewey Andreas series. Andreas is a covert CIA operative who has decided that he's done with the CIA, until the President pays him a personal visit. The trouble is that the leader of North Korea has learned that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He's decided to go out in a blaze of glory but attacking the US with nuclear missiles. They need Dewey to stop it.
It's action packed for sure but the story line is even more outrageous than in previous books. This genre is known for absurd plot lines but this one even stretches commonly accepted absurdity. There's also a sub-plot that I never really understood except if it's there just to set up the next novel. I still enjoyed the ride though. Fliakos did a great job with the narration.
A Test of Wills
By Charles Todd, Read By Samuel Gillies
This is the first in a long series based around Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge. Rutledge has just returned from service in WWI. Like many soldiers he returns with his own ghosts and demons. His new assignment is to a difficult case in a small village and not a few people hope that he fails.
I'm not totally sold on this series yet. But I may give the series a try.
Murder on the Orient Express
By Agatha Christie, Read By Dan Stephens
That's right. I've never read this book before! I'm not about to write a review for one of the most popular books of all time but I will say that I certainly recommend this particular production. It's narrated by Dan Stephens (Matthew on Downton) and he's exceptional! It takes serious talent to do so many different voices and accents and actually keep them all in order.
The Western Star
By Craig Johnson, Read By George Guidall
This is the 13th book in the Walt Longmire series and it's the last one I will read. It's funny that I read this after Murder on the Orient Express because this was a total play on that book. Walt is getting his weapons certification when a young sheriff points out a photo of a group of sheriffs in front of the Wyoming Star train. It was taken before Walt's fateful first and last trip on the train. That story is overlaid with the upcoming compassionate parole hearing for the person who caused what happened on that train.
The train story is a total steal from MOTOE and the story flips back and forth between the events on the train and current day drama over the parole hearing. In the audio version there's no real break to let you know that there's a new chapter so it took a while to get used to the transitions.
Simultaneously, there's a side story with Catie that's a clear set up for the next book. I've read the reviews for the next book (which aren't so good) and with the way this book went I've decided that this series has finished for me.
I was so looking forward to The Beekeeper of Aleppo but I just couldn't get into it.
Songbird is the first book in a new series. Apparently Grainger has another detective series and this one is a spinoff. It's a police procedural but an incredibly tedious police procedural. Additionally the main character is supposed to be a young detective and the narrator is clearly an older posh gentleman. It doesn't work.
I found both of these books too tedious to stick with.
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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.