I can't believe that July is already over! I feel like I am very behind on everything but apparently I stayed up on my reading by finishing 11 books. There was lots of serious reading going on this month with Chain of Title, The Science of Energy, a medical book and American Kingpin. Two of those really read like good crime novels so I'd count them in both categories. In the non-fiction books I think the continuation of the Tracey Crosswhite series was probably my favorite.
What did you read this month that you would recommend? I seriously do look up all of your recommendations. I do have a 10 hour limit meaning that I don't buy books that are less than 10 hours. So sometimes I don't read them just for that reason. I know that seems a bit random but I like long hikes and I find that less than 10 hours is more of a romp. Regardless, leave your recommendations no matter the length or genre because other people like to read them too!
By T.E. Woods, Narrated by Christina Delany
The Fixer is Lydia. She is a clinical psychologist who had a horrible upbringing. Now she dispenses vigilante justice as a hired assassin with morals. But her latest hire is close to home and someone has figured out who she is and is using her to for all of his/her dirty work.
This is the first in the "Justice" series, a new series to me. I wasn't too sure about this one at the beginning. The author introduces the characters through a series of very choppy scenes that only hint at the characters and their motivations. It was a little difficult to track. But about a third of the way in I finally got the hang of it. It's an interesting story and reminds me a little of Karin Slaughter's books and writing style. I'll read more of them.
Chain of Title
By David Dayen, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
Do you like conspiracy books? If so you will love this one. The catch is that it's not a novel. Everything in this book actually happened and if you are a homeowner or contemplating buying a home, you need to read this book.
This is the story of the mortgage/foreclosure crisis that set off the 2008 recession. I admit, I fell into that group of people who had little sympathy for the millions of Americans being foreclosed on. Chris and I live quite financially conservatively. I remember when we were house shopping in 1996 and we figured out what we could afford and started looking for our first house. I called the bank to get pre-qualified and they qualified us for FOUR TIMES the amount the we felt we could afford. We knew then that something bad was going to happen in housing if that was happening to everyone. We could have never afforded the mortgage or the electricity bill for the size house the bank was willing to lend.
But I didn't know what was going on with title transfers, how the securitization process was really working and how the banks were going about foreclosure. I was familiar with securitization from working in the bank card division of a large bank but only superficially. I did not know the details.
Also, if you are into activism you need to read this too. Often we think of ourselves as activists if we create protest art, write protest opinion pieces or participate in a protest march. That's OK, but it's not real activism. In this book you will see the reality of what it takes to be an effective activist. It takes EVERYTHING and this book gives you the real picture of the lives of 3 activists who really made a difference for us while impacting their own lives is very serious ways. It will also tell you that no matter which politicians tell you they are on "your" side. They are not and it's never more clear than in this event.
by Anna Romer, narrated by Eloise Oxer
Ruby Cardel thinks her life is great but then she finds a black bra in her boyfriend's suit jacket pocket. The same evening at her mother's art opening she meets a woman who was a beloved neighbor when she was growing up at Lyrebird Hill. Three weeks later she accepts the offer to visit her childhood home where her sister died in a terrible accident.
While there her memory of the event slowly begins to return and she discovers so many things about her life that are lies.
Ruby discovers the ancient letters of Brenna Magavin. Brenna is writing from her cell where she is to be hanged for murder.
The book is about both of their lives and how they are connected through the generations. The letters, and being at Lyrebird Hill, help bring Ruby's memory back and it's put her own life in danger.
that all sounds pretty good. It sort of was. It really wasn't a mystery/thriller. It was more romance/mystery/Lifetime movie. I'd put this somewhere between Nora Roberts and Karen White. It was a fine story but it sure was slow and plodding. It didn't help that the narrator sounded like a breathless Nicole Kidman. That got tedious after a while.
I didn't hate the book but I sure didn't love it. There just wasn't enough "meat" to it. You knew after the first third exactly where it was going and it too a long time to get there.
Blood on the Tracks
by Barbara Nickless, narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
Sydney Rose Parnell is an Iraq war veteran and now a Special Agent with the railroad police. Her K-9 partner is also a war veteran. The story starts simply enough. A woman, who Sydney knows, is found brutally murdered. The main suspect is her fiance, known as the Burned Man. He is also a war veteran who is deeply scarred with internal and external wounds. He travels the railroads as a hobo. Sydney is called in to help track him down.
But the story isn't nearly that simple.
This is the first in a series and a debut novel by this author and it was surprisingly good. I really thought it was over about a third of the way through but that's when we started down a very windy road with a surprise ending. The only thing I didn't like about it is her name. Her "uncle" calls her "Sidney Rose" throughout and it starts to grate. Sidney would have been just fine.
In the reviews there are several complaints about the narrator but, honestly, I loved her and thought she did a great job.
The Science of Energy
by The Great Courses, Michael E Wysession
It's summer and that means that The Great Courses has a sale. I picked up 2 this summer . One on The Vikings that I simply cannot finish. I've determined that I'm really not interested in Vikings that aren't from Minnesota.
The second book was this one on the science of energy and there's a lot about this book to like. I read a lot on this topic and am very interested in it. If you are at all interested in energy production and economics you will enjoy this, if for nothing else, for the in-depth explanation of each type of energy and how it is produced. That's about half of the book.
The rest gets into relative costs, political factors and, eventually, his personal bias toward solar and wind. This lecture series was produced in 2015 and much of what he discusses on the political and economic sides of the topic is already outdated. For example, his projections about coal do not take into consideration the estimated 1600 new coal plants being built over the next decade, half in China. This is from the New York Times this week under a heading that touts the world's support for the Paris Climate Agreement. How 1600 coal fired plants (none of which will run as clean as ours) constitutes a climate commitment is beyond me. So if you read the book you need to consider the outdated nature of some of the economic and projection data.
Here's an example of his illogical bias. He discussed in detail the land destruction coal, while admitting that coal is the most energy rich resource of all energy resources. Then while talking about the expense of burning garbage for fuel he again talks about accepting the added expense for the gain of saving land from landfill. (Now, I know that if you take every landfill in the US and put it in one place it would be a blip in the state of New Mexico. I learned this in the book about garbage that I read a while back.) But then while talking about solar and vast amount of land needed to be dedicated to solar to power something equivalent to coal or nuclear (about the size of the whole state of New Mexico), he dismisses it by saying that we are simply going to have to make some tough decisions about land use. Let's be honest, environmentalists are never going to allow that kind of land abuse. We are already having trouble getting the transmission lines from solar and wind generating fields built because of environmental concerns. Additionally he never really talks about the fact that there isn't enough silver in the whole world for that quantity of solar panels.
In the end, I believe that his conclusions about where energy use and policy are headed are on target (it's a mix of everything and it will ultimately be economically based) but there are some important bits of analytical information left out of the discussion. More importantly, there's a wealth of information on every type of energy production that will help anyone filter the partial information that we are delivered via "the news" daily. It was a worthwhile listen.
By Michael Crichton, Narrated by MacLeod Andrews
I love the Audible Deal of the Day. Occasionally there's a dud but that's also the case with regular purchase books. Most often it's a good book that I would have missed otherwise.
When I saw this one I knew that I liked Michael Crichton (Airframe is one of my favorite books) and I had not read this one.
The story is set in 1994 which means that it's old enough that it could almost be one of my beloved period stories! I actually enjoyed reading this 25 years later and remembering how this story was pulled from the news at the time. Remember how, at that time, everyone thought that the Japanese were going to take down the US economy? They were buying a lot of US companies and it was a frequent narrative in news, editorials and politics. That is the underlying theme of this book but the basic storyline is timeless.
A young, beautiful woman is found dead in a conference room of a Japanese conglomerate right in the middle of a party that's being attended by celebrities, politicians and major business people. There are a lot of people with a lot of influence who want the whole incident to go away.
I liked the character development and the story moved along at a fast pace except when they had to stop to use a pay phone because they weren't anywhere near the car to use the car phone.
By William Landay, Narrated by Grover Gardner
Andy Barber has been the Assistant DA for 20 years and now he's investigating/prosecuting the murder of a local 14 year old boy, a classmate of his son, Jacob. He's removed from the case when Jacob is charged with the murder.
This is a courtroom drama. Most of the scenes are courtroom scenes and there are 2 cases going on. The first is Jacob's and the second, that's told interspersed with the first, is one where Andy is testifying. It was a little slow starting but once I was in I was hooked. Lots of twist and turns and a surprising ending.
Beat the heart Attack Gene
by Bale and Doneen, Narrated by Bob Souer
I have a primary care physician that I absolutely love. She's the best doctor that I've ever had and I was devastated when I found out that she left the practice for a concierge practice. After a lot of deliberation, hand wringing and angst, I decided to follow her to the new practice. Someone with my allergy issues needs a doctor she can trust to help work around them. I resigned myself to pay the concierge fee simply to have access to her.
Chris went with me to meet with her and get a tour of the new practice. I expected a fancy office with lots of superficial fluff. Surprisingly, we walked into a very normal-looking medical office without fancy beverages or other non-essential perks. What we found was a completely different medical practice that focuses on individualized preventative medicine. The fee actually pays for the most comprehensive physical I've ever seen. We were sent home with the assignment to read this book that explains one angle of the practice.
I included it in my reading list because I think some of my readers might find this book very helpful also, no matter where you get your medical treatment. A lot of data collected in your normal physical is explained in great detail in the book and there are a few tests (like genetic testing) that you can get on your own that will go a long way to explaining your own personal risk and best treatment practices.
I listened to it in audio but I think it would be much better in paper. But it is thorough and eye opening.
The Trapped Girl
by Robert Dugoni, Narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith
This is the 4th in the Tracey Crosswhite series. Crosswhite is a Seattle murder detective and is on call to get a case of a dead woman found in a crab pot. (This is were I learned that West Coast crab pots are a lot bigger than East Coast crab pots!)
The woman is though to be a woman who went missing on Mt. Rainier months before.
Robert Dugoni writes a good mystery. Tracey and her partners are interesting characters with typical human flaws. The writing style reminds me a bit of the Harry Bosch novels. Now I have to wait patiently for book 5.
By Nick Bilton, Narrated by Will Damron
Holy cow, what a story and it's all true.
This is the story of Ross Ulbricht, a physics graduate who used his Libertarian beliefs to justify building the biggest online drug/weapons/body parts market in the world. It was called Silk Road and was on the "Dark Web". It's also the story of the people who spent 2 years hunting for him. This story is better than fiction and a lot scarier. At root it's about people. Good people and bad people. Even on the good side there are bad people.
Of course, we know that shutting him down didn't shut down the online drug market. We see it in the news every day. But if you like true crime you will absolutely love this book. You will learn about the dark corners of the web, about Bitcoin currency and about how accidental some criminal capture really is.
by Carl Hiaasen, narrated by John Rubenstein
After American Kingpin I needed something a little lighter and Razor Girl was just the ticket. Carl Hiaasen is one of the funniest writers that I follow. All of his books are set in Florida and feature a crazy array of creatures, tourists, criminals, corrupt government officials and a few sort-of normal people in a twisted tale.
This one is set in Key West where the Razor Girl and her co-hort work a very interesting scam involving a razor and a car accident. This wild story includes a mobster vacationing in Key West with his girlfriend, a shyster owner of a beach erosion company, the star of a reality TV show very much patterned after Duck Dynasty (but trashier), his #1 fan, Bister and a testosterone deodorant that has some unpleasant side effects.
This one is laugh-out-loud funny but don't get if if profanity bothers you.
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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