When you are doing days on end of fabric dyeing and ironing you have lots of time to listen to books! July was a good book month in terns of volume. I finished 11 books and made it about halfway through 2 more. I even saved some money because about half of the books came from the library!
By Bryn Chancellor, Narrated by Cassandra Campbell and others
A new resident to Sycamore, AZ is on a hike and finds bones. The discovery uncovers 20 years of sorrow, angst and inner turmoil among, seemingly, every resident of the town. It brings back memories of a girl who went missing and all of the people who were involved in her life.
It's a well written coming-of-age story and if you are into that you will enjoy this book. I'm a little short on empathy so I have difficulty with characters who dwell on the past. There were times that it grated on me a bit and the audio is a tad slow. Once I increased the reading speed things improved considerably.
Inside Camp David
By Michael Giorgione, Narrated by Michael Giorgione
One of the benefits of getting audiobooks from the library free is that I can break my 10 hour minimum rule. The way that I pay for my Audible subscription I pay about $10 per book. I set my limit to 10 hours so that I pay $1 or less per hour of listening. With free books I don't have to do any of that justification and that's how I can to listen to a book that was less than 8 hours.
Inside Camp David is about exactly what it says. It's tales of how the presidents live at their Maryland retreat and information about how it operates. I didn't know that it's a Naval installation and is run and staffed by the Navy and Marines. The author was the commanding officer of the camp at the end of the Clinton administration and beginning of the Bush 43 administration. He interviewed all of the living commanders to get their stores for the book. There's the surprising friendliness of Jackie Kennedy, Johnson the workaholic, Nixon who relished the privacy, Reagan who loved watching movies with the staff, Bill Clinton who loved having lots of friends around, both Bush families who probably loved and used the place the most and the Obama girls who loved fishing in nearby ponds and Michelle Obama who hugged everyone.
While the narration wasn't bad, I do think that authors really need to have professional narrator for their books. Aside from that it was an interesting peek into the non-public lives of the presidents and their families. I give the author credit for seemingly showing only the best side of the Presidents. You won't be getting any dirt with this book. It's all positive. That perspective makes it very interesting that the only president without personal anecdotes of interaction with the staff is Jimmy Carter. The only mention of him is of the Egypt/Israel summit.
By CJ Box, Narrated by David Chandler
I just love this series. Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming and this is the 9th book in the series. I've been reading these out of order but each book is a stand-alone story and while some of the family details are out of order for me it doesn't take away from the experience.
In this one Joe and his wife once had a foster daughter, April. She was taken back by her mother and lived in a survivalist community. They believe that she died when there was a Federal raid on the camp. But now April has contacted one of the Pickett daughters and the hunt is on to find her. I love the character development. You can even have empathy for some of the bad guys.
David Chandler also does a great job narrating this series.
By Kim Van Alkemade, Narrated by Corey Brill and Andi Arndt
Technically this book is categorized as historical fiction. The only history is that a man named Jacob Ruppert was the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees in the early 1900's. He build the first Yankee Stadium and brought Babe Ruth to the team. When he died he mysteriously bequest over 1/3 of his estate to Helen Winthrope Weyant, an unknown actress. She publicly said that she had no idea why he left the money to her. They did know each other and there's one photo of her with him and some other men. Her younger brother, Rex, did actually work for the Yankees after he graduated high school.
That's it. That's the history part. Everything else about this book is fiction. Albert Kramer, his gay private secretary is fiction, her relationship with her mother, early bout with pneumonia, work in the theater, etc, is all fiction. The story is told alternately from her and Albert. So my first beef with the book is that it's billed as being about her but I felt it was more about Albert and the struggles living as a gay man during that time period. It was about Jacob and how he brought these two people into his life and made, in essence, a little family of 3. The bachelor girl is the least interesting of the 3 characters.
My primary beef with the book is the imposition of modern mores on that time period. It's all here: interracial relationships, living as a single woman, gay life, discrimination of all kinds (although more gentle than we perceive today), the plight of Asian people. You name it, the author checked all the politically correct boxes. That was over the top for me. It just didn't ring true to the era. This book should have been about Albert, should have left the interracial tones out and Helen should have been a secondary character.
It's getting rave reviews, though, so what do I know. I will say that the actual writing is very good. It's the plot that annoys me.
The Lost Airman
By Seth Meyerowitz, Narrated By Jonathan Todd Ross
I'm not sure why I've become so interested in "true hero" stories the past few years but I do love them. This one is written by the grandson of Arthur Meyerowitz who learned the full story of his Grandfather's war experience long after his Grandfather died.
Artur was a turret gunner on the Harmful Lil Armful B-24 when it was shot down over France. This is the story of his harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied France and the story of a lot of brave French people working with the Resistance. It's not the epic tale of Unbroken but it's a story worth reading if you are into this king of book.
By Owen Laukkanen, Narrated by Edduardo Ballerini
This is the 3rd book in the Stevens and Windemere series and the second one that I've read...and probably the last.
Stevens is an officer with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Minnesota and a middle aged, happily married, white guy. Windemere is a young black female FBI agent. None of that should be relevant except for the forced sexual tension between them. I didn't buy any of it and, frankly, it was a distraction to the story.
The main storyline is that the two of them are having lunch when the witness a sniper hit. They had the opportunity to catch the killer but Windermere froze and let him get away. That's problem #1. FBI agents, I believe, are trained better than that. More hit-style murders happen and they discover they are investigating a murder-for-hire organization that uses brainwashed former soldiers with PTSD to execute the murders.
Fortunately Stevens and Windemere, between fantasies of having a relationship, trip over clues and eventually solve the case. While I was listening I kept thinking that this would have been much more interesting of there was a "dark web" angle to the story. I swear there was just a normal website where people transacted the business of murder for hire.
But there were bigger problems.
- The protagonist is meticulous about managing risk in his business until he suddenly decides to throw all that aside and introduce astounding risk to his side business.
- The TSA and DoD, both, stonewall the FBI investigation. Absolutely absurd when you are dealing with clear evidence in a murder investigation.
- One of the major clues had to do with the purchase of a "shit ton" of a particular ammunition. That particular ammo would not work in the weapon that was used in some of the crimes.
There are well over 100 chapters, some just a couple of paragraphs, and I found that and the lazy writing really annoying. I'll avoid this series going forward.
However, Eduardo Ballerini is an excellent narrator and he's the main reason that I finished this book.
Mornings on Horseback
By David McCullough, Narrated by Nelson Runger
I was interested in reading this book after I read The Path Between the Seas about the building of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt was the driver behind the completing of the canal and I wanted to know more about him.
This book focuses on his family life from when he was young through his second marriage. You get a clear picture of the moral foundations, inquisitive habits and dedication to service that he developed through is upbringing. Our 26th president was an interesting man and, after reading this, it's easy to understand how he was able to accomplish the great things he did as the youngest President to take office. (Many people, including Google, think that Kennedy was the youngest president but that's not true. Kennedy was 43 and 236 days, Roosevelt was 42 and 322 days. Kennedy was the youngest elected president but not the youngest to take office.
If you like biographies, this is a good one.
The Devil's Feast
By M.J. Carter, Narrated by Alex Wyndham
This is the 3rd in the Blake and Avery series set in Victorian England. Blake and Avery first met in India but at the beginning of this book Blake is in debtors prison and Avery is headed home to the English countryside. The night before his trip he is invited to dine with the most famous chef in England, Alexis Soyer. Soyer is a real historical figure and he was the chef at the Reform Club (a real place). The night that Avery has dinner with Soyer another guest dies of poison.
MJ Carter writes a great mystery novel. The characters are all interesting and the plot seems plausible. At the end of the book she has a chapter explaining what's "real" and what's fiction. I just hope there's going to be a 4th in the series.
By David Lebovitz, Narrated by Graham Halstead
This book is about the trials and tribulations of apartment renovation in Paris. The renovator, David Lebovitz, is also a pastry chef. I think he gained his fame through his cooking blog.
This book is not a good candidate for audio format. Almost every chapter ends with a recipe plugged in kind of randomly and there's nothing worse than a narrated recipe. Recipes are also not good for someone who is allergic to 75% of the foods available.
This book didn't work for me for two reasons. First, books with too much discussion of food that I can't eat just make me cranky. Second, the book is all about the ordeal that is apartment buying and renovation in Paris. If you love crushing bureaucracy then this book is for you! Seriously, it took 10 months to just close on the purchase of the apartment! I came away with the thought that visiting Paris might be just enough. For living, I'll stay in the good ole USA where we still expect some level of customer service.
Trap the Devil
By Be Coes, Narrated by Jay Snyder
Man, I love Dewey Andreas. This is the 7th in the series. Dewey is a CIA operative and there's an inside plot to take out the President, Vice President and Secretary of State and install a new government.
Fast paced and action packed with lots of returning characters, friends and enemies.
If you like Jack Ryan books, you will like the Andreas series.
The Unclaimed Victim
By D.M. Pulley, Narrated By Carly Robins
Last year I read The Dead Key by this author and I loved it. She masterfully wove a tale centered around an old bank building and featured two heroines. One who worked in the building in the 70's and another in the 90's. The Unclaimed Victim followed the formula of that story so closely that I felt like I knew everything that was going to happen.
Read one or the other. I wouldn't read both. I preferred The Dead Key.
By Ben Lynch, Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
This is another book that delves into the effect of genetics on our overall health. But Dr. Lynch has a program for "cleaning" our genes so they no longer behave dirty. Apparently you don't need to know your actual genetic structure because he has a questionnaire that will help you figure out where your genes are dirty.
Honestly, I didn't finish this book. The program is so draconian that I simply don't think I could add that on the things I already do. I'm probably 60% into his program already. Any further and I might as well move into a cave.
But the main reason I didn't finish it is that this book simply doesn't work in an audio format. There's a ton of supporting material that can't be narrated. But if you have any sort of chronic health problem you might find this interesting.
By J D Vance, Narrated by J D Vance
This is a book that I've been wanting to read for a while but it is shorter than my 10 hour minimum so I wouldn't buy it. But now that I have access to a decent library collection I was able to listen to it through Libby.
This is about the Scots-Irish Hillbilly people that live in Appalachia - the white working class that were/are the coal miners and factory workers that were hit so hard in the last recessions and with the opioid crisis.
It's a story about J D Vance and his family and how his Grandparents left Kentucky for jobs in Ohio, how the alcoholism of that generation affected the next and how his mother's addictions affected him. It's kind of depressing and uplifting at the same time. I have a strong Scots-Irish-Appalachia thread in my own family and it was funny to hear some of the same phrases that I used to hear growing up. Fortunately, I didn't have the family dysfunction that he had to deal with.
The book was published in 2016, before the election, but if you are still distraught about the election results and want to understand the Trump voter, this is the book you should read. Be careful, you might get a bit of insight and develop a bit of understanding and empathy.
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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