I started off 2023 with 10 books this month and only one DNF book. I took a trip down audiobook memory lane by re-listening to one of my earliest audiobooks, The Razor's Edge. I read it so long ago that I didn't remember any of it. I can barely remember what I read last week so that wasn't a surprise. I remember liking W. Somerset Maugham and I enjoyed it the second time around.
I don't have any strong favorites and I don't have any strong dislikes. It was a good month of reading and it's all fiction this month. Maybe you will find something intriguing on this list for your next read. I hope you will leave me some suggestions of books that you have enjoyed this month.
The War of Jenkins' Ear by Robert Gaudi - This one is for hard core historians. It didn't hold my interest.
Their Last Secret
By Rick Mofina, Read By Jennifer Jill Araya
This is the second book by Mofina that I've read and this one was better than the last. It's an interesting plot.
20 years ago Janie Klassen and 2 friend were involved in the brutal murder of a wealthy family in a town in Canada.
Now she's a school counselor in California and recently married to a popular crime writer. She finds a note on her car referencing the 20th anniversary. She's being followed and her husband has, unknowingly, decided that his next book will be about the murders in her town.
It's not a gripping "mystery" because there's not much of a mystery there but it's got enough drama and an interesting premise.
By Jason Pinter, Read By Angela Dawe
This is the 1st book in a new-to-me series. Rachel is a single mother of 2 young children who leads a quiet suburban life. No one suspects the tragedy that hit her family several years ago.
In her new life a former mayor is found dead on a frozen river. Everyone thinks that she killed herself but Rachel has done the math and knows that's impossible. She butts into the investigation and now the killer and the investigators aren't happy with her.
It's a very fast-paced investigative novel. I'd read more in this series for sure.
By Stuart Woods, Ready By Tony Roberts
I picked this book because Mom and I needed a 6 hour read for a day trip. This one fit the bill. This is the 62nd (!) book in the Stone Barrington series. I read some of this series several years ago.
Stone Barrington is a lawyer and has a new client. She's the extremely wealthy aunt of his assistant. Stone is helping her write a new will and set up a trust for her step-son. The step-son is spoiled, irresponsible and threatening to his step-mother.
It was a fast paced read that was great for a car ride. With the short length the plot could only get so complex but we both enjoyed it.
By Alice Feeney, Read By Stephanie Racine
Daisy Darker and her family have been estranged for years but the matriarch has asked everyone to come home for her 80th birthday. The homeplace is on a tidal land that is cut off from the mainland except during low tide. At midnight Nana is found dead in the kitchen. An hour later another family member is found dead. It's 6 hours until the tide recedes and everyone can get off the island.
I can't give away the plot twist but I will say that it has a big twist that would normally be a turn-off for me in a book. But I actually enjoyed this book. The whole thing takes place over about 6 hours and I couldn't put it down. It's a very "not me" book but shows that we need to try different books from time to time.
The Family Remains
By Lisa Jewell, Read by a cast
Lisa Jewell dreams up some really messed up family situations. In fact, I'd say she's an expert at the dysfunctional family novel. They are part mystery and part messed up family dynamics.
This one is a sequel to The Family Upstairs and I do recommend reading them in order. Unfortunately I read the first one 2 years ago and forgot bits of it. It eventually all came back to me as I was reading this one.
The bones of a missing woman are found on the shores of the Thames. She's been missing about 30 years and she was connected to a house where 3 people were found dead in an apparent cult suicide pact around the same time and the girl went missing. Got all that?
That house remained vacant for 25 year until the heir, an infant at the time, is found and can inherit it. So this book is about wrapping up the stories of the children from the first book. Then there's a separate storyline that seems really random until near the end and, when it comes together you kind of wonder what the purpose of all that was.
I was totally sucked into the book and finished it pretty quickly but once it was over I was a little perplexed by it all. If you like Lisa Jewell, it's pretty classic Lisa Jewell just a little more unhinged in my opinion.
The Razor's Edge
By W. Somerset Maugham, Read By Michael Page
I first started listening to audiobooks in the late 1980's when I was commuting to DC from Norfolk weekly. Back then they were cassette tapes and came in the mail in cardboard boxes. I remember when they switched to CDs and they had a big sale on the cassette versions. I bought tons of them really cheap and that kept me in books for months.
At first there wasn't the kind of extensive catalog that Audible has now so I got to read a lot of classics and one writer that I really enjoyed was W. Somerset Maugham. The Razor's Edge popped up somewhere recently and I decided to give it another listen. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.
This book was first published in 1942 and is set in the time right after WWI and before WWII. Larry Darrell served in the war and returned a changed man. He's engaged to the beautiful Isabel but he can't seem to settle down. There are too many questions in his mind and it sends him to Paris to study philosophy, to an Ashram, a monastery and to work in a coal mine. Meanwhile we also follow the life of Isabel without Larry.
An interesting aspect of this book is that it's told from the POV of a third party. That, in itself, isn't unique but the third party is Maugham himself. It's a good read.
If you want to go down an interesting rabbit hole check out this obituary of Duvall Hecht, the founder of Books on Tape. Writing this review made me wonder how Books on Tape started. I'm glad I followed that thread. Hecht was a very interesting man.
By William Kent Krueger, Read By David Chandler
This is #17 in the Cork O'Connor series. If you would like a book that it told in the age we live in but isn't overridden by the author's politics then this is the book for you. Are you cynical about government? Don't believe much of anything you hear? Someone who believes that right will win in the end? Any and all of you will be happy with this one.
A progressive Senator representing the area is flying in to speak at a local meeting. Her plane crashes and everyone aboard is killed. A surprising array of alphabet agencies descend on Aurora to figure out what went wrong.
Stephen, Cork's son, sees visions and they generally aren't pleasant. Several books back he saw a vision of his own mother's death. This story starts out with another of his visions and it seems related to the plane crash.
These books are fast paced and a fun read/listen.
The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
By Jennifer Ryan, Read by Sophie Robert
This book came to me as a recommendation from Carole. I'd call it a mix of historical fiction and light romance and it was a good read for me when I needed something light but interesting.
It's WWII and Cressida Westcott has lost her home and fashion design business in the blitz. She has no option but to return to her family home that's now occupied by her nephew and niece, Violet Westcott. Violet is a debutante solely focused on finding an appropriate husband from the dwindling supply. The third main character is Grace Carlisle. She's the vicar's daughter and is trying to repair her mother's badly-damaged wedding dress to wear for her own upcoming nuptials.
These three come together at the local sewing circle where ladies meet to make items for the soldiers and repair/remake clothing for local residents. The group works to repair Grace's dress and get the idea to have a wedding dress exchange for brides that aren't allowed to purchase new dresses during the war. This part of the story is based on actual wedding dress exchanges that occurred during the war and many American women even shipped over their own dresses for the cause.
It was a fun read and a nice break from my usual fare.
The Arsonists' City
By Hala Alyan, Read By Leila Buck
The Nasr family immigrated from Lebanon and all of their children were born in America. The children are now adults and the family is spread from California to Texas, New York and Beirut. Now the patriarch wants to sell the family home in Beirut and all of the family is expected to spend the summer there.
Everyone has secrets and they have all grown apart with the distance. The book is a generational family saga set among real events. I thought that the character development was really well done. You really do get to know the characters and you like them better or less as their lives develop. I really enjoyed the different settings and cultural references.
The Lightkeeper's Daughter
By Hazel Gaynor, Read By Imogen Church
This is a novel based on the life of Grace Darling and while Grace's story is an interesting one I didn't find the re-telling of it to be all that interesting.
The book is meant to be a tribute to Grace and female lightkeepers through history. It features three women, Grace (1838) and Harriett and Matilda (1938). Matilda is a 19 year old pregnant Irish girl who is sent to Rhode Island to live with a relative until her baby is born. Harriett is a lighthouse keeper who lost her 16 year old daughter to a storm several years ago. Grace and a woman she helped save, Sarah Dawson, are real people. Matilda will learn of her connection to Sarah and Grace through a portrait that she find at the Rhode Island lighthouse.
The book explores their connections and their lives as lighthouse keepers. The problem with the book is that all of the characters are the same. All of the women are long-suffering, stare-into-the-distance types who are dedicated to their lighthouses above all else, even the chance for love. You hardly know you are jumping back and forward in time because the storylines are so similar and the women all have the same overriding angst. The men in the book are just supporting cast and all of the characters are kind of flat. Everything was flat, even the scenery. I didn't connect to one character or place and I love the shore and lighthouses. The narration exhausted me. I think Imogen Church narrated the story as it was meant to be portrayed but it was too plodding for me.
To subscribe click the RSS Feed button and copy the URL of that page into your blog reader.
In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
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.