Wow, I finished 14 books this month! Can you tell that I've turned off the news? Most of the books this month came from the library so the reading order is just a function of availability. As always there's good and not-so-good. The Allen Eskins books and the Nick Petrie books were really nice surprises. I was also happy to read more from Andrea Penrose and Candace Fox. I'll pass on any more Spencer-Flemming books and I expect that I'll keep reading JoJo Moyes. There are 2 non-fiction books that are for very specific audiences.
What have you read this month? I'm digging deep into the library audio archives for new books to read so I can use all the suggestions that I can get.
The Heavens May Fall
By Allen Eskins, Read By David Colacci, Any McFadden and RC Bray
Those of you who have read this book will know that it falls under my 10 hours minimum (9.5 hours) but I was able to get it free from the library so I decided to get it on your recommendation.
Detective Max Rupert is still dealing with the unsolved murder of his wife four years and it affects how he does his job. This story opens as the wife of a prominent attorney is found murdered in her home. The husband is the first and only suspect but he has an alibi. The husband hires Brody Sanden, a friend of Rupert's, as his attorney. From there the story keeps you guessing until the very end.
I think that Rupert might be a series but it's not listed on Audible as a series. Eskins writes a good mystery and I'll read more.
The Ship of Brides
By JoJo Moyes, Read By Nicolette McKenzie
I read Moyes' The Giver of Stars last month about the Depression Era packhorse libraries of Kentucky. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't wait to fond another of her books to read. Some of her books are straight up romance books but some are historical fiction. I prefer historical fiction and that's what this one is.
During WWII a lot of military men stationed away from home married women in the countries where they were stationed. After the war it required a lot of effort to get tens of thousands of women transported to their new homes around the world. This book tells the story of one of the "war bride ships". The HMS Victorious was tasked with bringing several hundred brides from Australia to Portsmouth, England. This book is the fictional story of that journey. It's researched well enough and we all know enough about human behavior in stressful situations to know that this story rings true.
I became very attached to the brides and couldn't pt this one down....to the point that I ignored my Mom and husband for part of the 4th of July afternoon.
By Geraldine Brooks, Ready By Jennifer Ehle (the one and true Elizabeth Bennett)
This is a historical fiction book that tells the story of the first Native American to attend Harvard, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck. Caleb and his classmate Joel Hiacoomes are real and were the first Native American to attend Harvard.
The story is told more as a the life story of Bethia, the daughter of a Puritan minister on Martha's Vineyard. Bethia meets Caleb as a a young girl and they strike up a friendship. They teach each other their languages. As a girl in 1600's New England, she was not allowed an education but she was clearly smarter than her brother.
This book isn't really about Caleb "crossing" into the white world. It's about Bethia and what it was like being a woman in that time period. It's really well researched and it's pretty interesting but it's also kind of awkward and a little slow. About 2/3 through we're suddenly with Bethia on her death bed and all that happens is that she continues telling the story but now in past tense. I don't know the purpose of that.
Part of the slowness can be attributed to the narration. "Elizabeth Bennett", it turns out, isn't a great narrator. I sped it up a bit and that helped.
I liked the information in the book but it's not my favorite historical fiction book. But it's still worth a read I think.
The Guise of Another
By Allen Eskens, Read By Jonathan Yen
I read my first Allen Eskins book a few weeks ago and like it enough to look for another. This one is actually the first in the Max Rupert series. Max actually plays a small role in this book. This one focuses on his brother, Alexander.
Alexander is a war hero and Minnesota police detective. He's under investigation for corruption. When a new case comes his way he jumps on the opportunity to improve his reputation.
The case is about a car accident victim who seems to have a false identity and someone has been looking for this man for years.
Lots of twists and turns and a good read.
In the Bleak Midwinter
By Julia Spencer-Fleming, Read By Suzanne Toren
This is the first in a series set in upstate NY and featuring Episcopal Priest Clare Fergussen and local Detective Russ Van Alstyne. This book is almost 20 years old but the story holds up well. The biggest sign of it's age is that no one has cell phones. They actually look up number in a phone book!
Clare is new to the area and one day a baby is left on the steps of the church. She finds it and delivers the baby to the hospital. There's a search for the baby's mother that, of course, leads to a lot of surprises and murder.
If you are triggered by anything religious then you want to avoid this book. I didn't find it very religious but there are church scenes and a prayer or two. It's a pretty good story and it held my interest. The sexual tension between Clare and Russ is awkward. It will be interesting to see how that develops in future books. It's set in winter and there were actually times that I felt cold. That's a miracle in July in Virginia....or I have a covid fever. (I don't.)
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
I don't know who recommended this book to me but I thank you! This is actually the second book in a series featuring Peter Ash. Ash is a war veteran with PTSD. He can't go into buildings or sleep in enclosed places. He mostly camps and that's how he meets June. June's mother was killed recently and now people are after June to get access to the program that her mother was developing. Ash's friend, Louis, joins in to help.
It was a fun read and I really liked the characters.
Hidden Valley Road
By Robert Kolker, Read By Sean Pratt
Get down on your knees right now and thank whatever deity you pray to that you were not a member of this family. Their story is devastating.
HVR is about Don and Mimi Galvin and their 12 children, 6 of whom developed schizophrenia. It is incredibly interesting but also very heavy.
The Galvin children were born between 1945 and 1965. The two youngest are girls and the other 10 are all boys. Six of those boys developed schizophrenia by the mid-70's. Very little was knows about the disease and the treatments were rudimentary, at best so their suffering (individually and as a family) was horrible. But this family provided a unique was to research if there was an identifiable genetic marker for the disease.
The story is told very compassionately. No one is made out to be a villain. It's just the story of this family and the story of research and treatment of the disease. It was really interesting but also very heavy, so be prepared if you decide to read it. If you have a family member or friend with schizophrenia you can be very grateful to this family and the contributions that they were able to make to the science.
What Once Was True
By Jean Grainger, Read By Caroline Lennon
This is the first in The Robinswood Series. Robinswood is an estate in Waterford Ireland and the book opens in 1939. Lord and Lady Kenefick's fortunes are declining and keeping up the big estate is getting harder by the day. Dermont Murphy and his family live and work on the estate and do their best to keep things in running order.
War is looming and the old, reliable, social structure may be breaking down.
I enjoyed the character and the story. It had a little bit of everything: family drama, romance and mystery.
Murder at Kensington Palace
By Andrea Penrose, Read by James Cameron Stewart
This is the 3rd book in the Wresford and Sloane mystery series set in Georgian England, a time where there was a lot of interest in scientific research.
Charlotte Sloane's cousin is murdered and his brother is charged with the crime. Charlotte will have to reveal her true identity so that she and Wrexford can find the real killer.
This is a fun series. With each book new characters are introduced and each book has an underlying story that is true to the time. In this one people are experimenting with the Voltaic Pile (the first battery) and with the prospect of bring the dead back to life with electricity following on with the work of Luigi Galvini.
Gone By Midnight
By Candice Fox, Read By Euan Morton
This is the 3rd book in the Crimson Lake series. 4 boys are left to play in a hotel room to play while their parents have dinner. During one of the hourly checks it's discovered that one of the boys is missing. The mother wants Ted Conkaffee and Amanda Pharrell to help with the search and investigation.
Another fun read in this series.
The Housemaid's Daughter
By Barbara Mutch, Read By Bahni Turpin and Cat Gould
I selected this book because of the comparisons to The Help. This book is NOT even close to The Help. I really don't get the love for this book. It reads like a series of diary entries. Part of it is diary entries but the parts that aren't still read that way. The whole thing is flat and it's impossible to develop any empathy for the characters. In The Help you wanted to KNOW those characters;not in this book.
Ada is born the daughter of a housemaid in South Africa. Catherine, the mistress of the house, seems to have taken much more interest in raising Ada than her own two children. She teaches Ada to read and to play piano. The book is the story of Ada's life told in a series of short chapters that fall as flat as diary entries. Ada, who is very well read, is portrayed as naive right up until the time of her death. "What does this word "beneficiary" mean?" There's a lot of that throughout the book. It's ridiculous.
I finished the book because I could listen to Bahni Turpin read the phone book but I don't really recommend it.
A Fountain Filled With Blood
By Julia Spencer-Flemming
Read By Suzanne Toran
This is the second in the Rev Clare Fergussen and police chief Russ Van Alstyne series. I read the first one earlier this month and gave it a hopeful review. I hit a dry spot in book availability this week (every book on hold but none available). I found that this one was available a decided to give it a try.
The series is set in update NY. Both characters are ex-military which give then some unexpected talents and hangups to make the plot more interesting. The good Reverend likes to spend more time solving crimes and being a social justice activist than she does ministering to her congregation. She only prays when she's in trouble, like most of the rest of us. She's also got a serious crush on the married police chief.
The police chief, meanwhile, has a crush on the Reverend (about 20 years younger of course) but he's married. It's hard to accept that he's married because in 2 books his wife has never made an appearance. In fact, he seems to purposely leave home every time his wife is there. The relationship between the two is incredibly annoying. By now they would have either started having an affair or he would have left his wife because it's clear that he doesn't love her because he's never home!
There are murders that seem to be hate crimes (against gay men) but they may also have something to do with a resort development that isn't going well. Clare does a whole bunch of really stupid stuff (that no trained military helicopter pilot would ever do) and eventually she and Russ bungle their way into solving the crimes. You could tell from the first chapter who was behind it all.
The worst part is the narrator. Clare is from southern Virginia and I know the accent there very well as it's my own. Toran gives her a Southern Georgia plantation accent as if she just stepped out of Gone With the Wind. It bothered me a little in the first book but it really grated on me in this one because it really doesn't fit the personality and dialogue of the character. I won't read any more books in this series.
By Nick Petrie, Read By Stephen Mendel
This is the first book in the Peter Ash series. I reviewed the #2 book, Burning Bright, above. I had put this one on hold at the library and it became available pretty quickly. I'm glad because it was refreshing after the last 2 books.
This is the book that introduces Peter Ash, a war veteran who is dealing with PTSD. His PTSD manifests itself as claustrophobia. He sleeps outside and avoids all inside spaces. He's come to Wisconsin to help the widow of one of his Marine friends. While working on her porch he finds a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives...
I finished this one in less than 24 hours. I'm putting #3 on hold right away.
Conquering the Electron
By Derek Cheung and Eric Brach
Read by Eric Jason Martin
I felt it was time I dove back into some non-fiction so I ended the months with this book. If you like human scientific history then this is the book for you! It is a VERY detailed history of the electronics age. It's interesting but reading this is like taking a college course. Lots and lots of information. It even included the development of the Voltaic Pile that I learned about in the Penrose book above. The narration could have been better but I sped it up to 1.15 and that helped a lot.
I've been listening to a lot of books over the past few months, too, but not as many has you! Here are some that I have enjoyed, all from Hoopla through the library. The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Forty Autumns (nonfiction) by NIna Willner, A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, To Capture What We Cannot See by Beatrice Colin, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson and the Gilded Hour and Where the Light Enters (sequel) by Sara Donati. I'll be borrowing some that you read this past month.
8/1/2020 11:38:50 am
I read a review of Hidden Valley Road and I put it on my list. Good to hear you liked it. Conquering the Electron also looks good, and I know my husband will enjoy it. I finished The Golden Thread, about how textiles have influenced history, and I recommend it.
8/5/2020 06:52:59 pm
I just finished The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson (after seeing a recommendation on one of Marie Bostwick's blog posts). It has a little bit of mystery and overall I thought it was very good story telling!
8/11/2020 10:34:16 am
I'm always happy to read your book list Vicki - and now I'm off to our library web site to see if they have any that have caught my eye. Probably not, but one can hope!
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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.