After I published last month's reviews I realized that I left 2 books off the May list. So I'm starting June with these 2 non-fiction books. With these my total for June is 13. That may seem a little light for me but Chesapeake is 50 hours so should count for at least 4 books! All in all it was a great reading month. There were only 2 duds: The Murder List is simply bad writing and Good Girls Lie is not my genre (psychological thriller).
I didn't have any DNF books this month but I wish I had quit The Murder List.
Do you have any recommendations for is this month? We aren't going to have internet or TV for 2 weeks of our vacation in August so I'm stockpiling books and sewing projects.
By Matthew McConaughey
Anne had the hardback of this book at the beach and I picked it up after she finished it. I had it finished in less than 2 days. What a fun read. This man has had an incredibly interesting life from childhood on. His outlook on life is refreshing. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Voyage of Mercy
By Stephen Puleo, read By Sean Patrick Hopkins
Did you know that the first international aid mission was the USA sending food to Ireland during the potato famine? Me either. But I know it now.
This is the story of the first of over 100 aid ships that were filled by the citizens of the USA to go to Ireland. The USS Jamestown was a retired war ship that was loaned to Captain Robert Bennet Forbes for the mission.
Forbes left a treasure trove of documentation from his life so the book has incredible details about the relief missions to Ireland. It was absolutely fascinating.
By Tana French, Read By Roger Clark
I loved her Dublin Murder Squad Series that seems to have come to an end. This one is a stand-alone book.
Cal Hooper was a Chicago police officer for 25 years. When he retired he, for some inexplicable reason, moved as far away as possible to a remote Irish town. There he could have some space and lots of peace and quite.
Then a local kid shows up and eventually convinces him to look for his missing brother. This little village, it turns out, is full of secrets.
This book has some really mixed reviews on Audible but I liked the book and the narrator. It's not as good as the DMS series but it was a fine read that kept my attention.
By John Hart, Read By Kevin Stillwell
The story is set in North Carolina during the Vietnam War. Gibson (Gibby) French has older twin brothers. One has already died in the war and the other, Jason, returned misunderstood, damaged and with a reputation as a hard (and decorated) killer. After 3 years in prison he returns home to see his little brother and gets both of them into a lot of trouble.
Jason takes Gibby on a day of adventure with 2 women. All is well until they pass a prison bus on the highway and one of the women decides to taunt the prisoners. She is brutally murdered later and suspicion immediately falls on Jason.
That's just the first couple of chapters and there's so much more to this story. It's very much about the mystery of the murder but it's also about family, misunderstandings, secrets and psychopaths. This is one of the most original stories that I've rad in a very long time. It's gritty, brutal, hopeful, and sensitive all at the same time.
If you decide to give this one a try there are some pretty gruesome scenes but he doesn't go into gory details just for the sake of the gore and horror. He provides enough to get across the brutality without leaving you with nightmare inducing images.
The Spanish Promise
By Karen Swan, Read By Yolanda Kettle
I'm really glad my friend introduced me to Chirp books. Audible recommendations are not great. They either recommend really popular authors that I already know about or they are using their recommendations for various forms of virtue signaling. Their algorithms clearly don't follow my own reading patterns anymore.
Chirp is refreshing because they recommend a lot of the books that we've never hear of or new authors. Their daily deal email has turned me into a book hoarder. At least the are all electronic versions so they aren't taking up valuable fabric and yarn storage space.
I've never heard of Karen Swan but she seems to be really popular. This story takes us to Spain (a refreshing change). One the country's richest men is dying and his family has just discovered that he's planning to give his wealth to a young woman from Madrid. No one has any idea who she is.
Charlotte Fairfax is contracted by the bank to meet this woman and convince her to accent a smaller amount. But the woman denies that she knows anything about the man or his gift.
I'd categorize this as a summer beach read. Charlotte is caught between her upcoming wedding, the mystery of the inheritance and an old flame. Mariana, the surprised recipient, is trying to figure out why she's being given this gift and how to deal with that kind of wealth. It was predictable but a fun, light read.
There was one aspect that was annoying. Charlotte is a wealth therapist or something like that. She helps people deal with sudden wealth. There was an overused theme of wealth not buying happiness.
Good Girls Lie
By J. T. Ellison, Read By Fiona Hardingham
Rich people who want someone else to raise their girls send them to the Goode School in Virginia. A new student is arriving from England. She has lost both of her parents and was accepted on scholarship because she doesn't have access to her inheritance. There is one senior girl on campus who seems to run the place. She oversees the honor code review board that doesn't seem to have faculty members (WTH?) and she seems to control the biggest secret society, The Dean is aware of the secret societies and that there is a lot of hazing going on.
When I student is found dead a lot of secrets start to unravel. There's a new sinister element on campus.
It's a psychological thriller in the vein of Gone Girl. I finished it but I won't read other books by Ellison. I read my first one in April and was on the fence about it. This one tipped the scale to "no". It's more rich people problems spread among a full cast of unlikable characters.
The Poacher's Son
By Paul Doiron, Read By Henry Levya
This is the first in a series focused on Mike Bowditch. Bowditch is a game warden in Maine and has almost no relationship with is father. One day he received a message from his father followed by a call from the police the next morning. His bar brawler father is accused of killing a cop and is a fugitive.
Mike believes that his father is innocent and (about halfway through the book) teams up with a retired game warden to hunt for his father and for the real killer.
The story took a while to set up but I suppose that's because it's the first in a series and there are people to introduce and backstories to develop. The actual man hunt got going about halfway through the books. I'm not saying that the first half was boring, it was not. This book got me through a very boring day at the voting polls.
I will try another book in this series to see how the character develops.
A Man With One of Those Faces
By Caimh McDonnell, Read By Morgan C. Jones
First in the Dublun Trilogy
If you like Carl Hiaasen I think you will like this. Set in Dublin, this is a murder mystery wrapped inside a humor book. Paul Mulchrone has a face that everyone seems to recognize. He spends time in local nursing homes visiting with various elderly people who think he's a nephew, son or friend. Eventually he visits with one too many patients and the next thing he knows someone is trying to murder him.
Aided by a nurse who is addicted to crime novels and a cop who has a penchant for violence, they try to solve one of Ireland's most notorious crimes.
It is quite Hiaasen-like. It took me a little to get into it but I think that was mostly because I was distracted with other stuff. I'm going to stick with the series. After finishing this, I discovered that there is a prequel called Angels in the Moonlight so I'll read that next.
Note: Audible has this identified as "Only From Audible". Not so. I got my copy from Chirp for about $5.
Then the fun begins.Ocean Prey
By John Sandford, Rad By Richard Ferrone
#31 in the Lucas Davenport series
Last year I read Masked Prey (#30) and was so disappointed in the political overtones that I almost skipped this book. But since it was free from the library it was low risk. With this book I feel like we are back to the old Davenport and I'm very happy about that. I don't think the Prey books are award worthy but they are fun and fast moving reads.
Three Coast Guardsmen are killed when inspecting a boat off the coast of Florida. An off-duty guardsman was fishing and called in the suspicious boat. The FBI is called in to investigate but their investigation goes nowhere. That's where the US Marshall's take over and Lucas Davenport is called in.
The real treat in this book is that Virgil Flowers along with Davenport's new side-kicks, Rae and Bob are back. The latest books in this series have really changed Davenport's personality. I'm not thrilled with it but it still works with the stories.
The Butterfly House
By Katrine Engberg, Read By Graem Malcolm
If you like the Department Q series by Jussi Adler Olsen then this book will be right up your alley. This book is also set in Copenhagen and narrated by the same reader as the Department Q books. He's an excellent narrator.
There are multiple story lines coming together in this fascinating book. There's a nurse in a local hospital "helping" some patients along into their life journeys. There are also blood-drained dead bodies showing up around the city, specifically in water sites. Lead detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are dealing with their own issues. Korner is just divorced and Werner is a new mother on maternity leave and hasn't quite processed what her new life means.
The Butterfly House is a now-defunct home for troubled teens and everything seems to connect there. There's a prequel to this book too that I'll now go and read. It's called The Tenant.
The Murder List
By Hank Phillippi Ryan, Read By Angela Dawe
I wish I had quit half way through this book when I first wanted to. I kept hoping for it to turn good but it didn't.
Rachel North is a law student married to Boston defense attorney. She's supposedly really smart, hard working and ethical. There's not much actual evidence of that except for the characters saying it.
My beef with this book started with the situation that brought all of the key characters together. Rachel was Chief of Staff for a Massachusetts state Senator. In fact, he's the president of the Senate. Shortly after being promoted to this job (that she's unqualified for) she actually selected to be on the jury of a murder trial. In no place in America would a politician's staff member be allowed to serve on a jury of any kind. Never. No way. To me, that makes the story lazy and it got worse from there.
By James A. Michener, Read By Larry McKeever
I love epic novels and I fell in love with that genre when I first read Chesapeake sometime in the early 1980's. Anyone who lives in Virginia, Maryland or Delaware loves the Chesapeake Bay tells the history of the Bay through a fictional Maryland river and town. I loved it 40 years ago and I loved it this month.
BUT, reading this book is a serious commitment. In paperback it's over 1000 pages and in audio is 50+ hours! Also this book was recorded in the early days of audiobooks (the Books On Tape days) and the narrator is not up to modern standards. Speeding it up to about 1.25 helped a lot.
The Last Child
By John Hart, Read By Scott Sowers
I read another John Hart book, The Unwilling, earlier this month. I put this one on hold at the library and it became available in time for me to finish out the month with 2 Hart books.
Johnny Merriman is a 13-year-boy whose life was torn apart a year ago when his sister was abducted (witnessed by his best friend) and then his father left. He's a very smart kid who has spent every spare minutes the last year searching for clues to find his sister. Meanwhile his mother has completely fallen apart and has ended up in an abusive relationship.
The Detective on the case, Clyde Hunt, is also haunted by Alyssa's disappearance and works the case night and day. He also keeps a close eye on Johnny and his mother.
You know how may books (John Sandford comes to mind) have the uber intelligent, risk-taking hero to pull the story together and eek out victory in the end? Then there are other books where every character continually makes illogical decisions that get them into more and more trouble? This isn't that kind of book. It's a very complex story with flawed characters just like real people. They make real life kinds of decisions and some of them become (unlikely) heroes.
I'll tell you how deeply I fell into this book. At one point I came into the den to tell Chris about an event in the book as if it was a real life news item. It also very much reminded me of the rural life in the small county where I grew up, although without abducted teenagers.
I read some of the reviews of this book on Audible and there were lots of complaints about the narrator but I enjoyed his reading. Maybe his accent is close to my own so I didn't find it bothersome at all. But if you are thinking about the audio version be sure to try a sample to hear the narration.
6/30/2021 11:33:25 am
As always, I love your book reviews! I recently read The Searcher, my first Tana French novel. I thought it moved a bit slow but I loved the writing (although the Irish have some quirky speech mannerisms, IMHO). Would like to read more of her books. Since you like memoirs, you would probably enjoy The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sydney Poitier, which I read a number of years ago. Also, have you read Maya Angelou's books? I think they are really great. I just finished reading the 2nd Mitch Rapp book, Transfer of Power. It was looong but so good. Now I want to start at the beginning and read all of them. So many books, so little time!
6/30/2021 12:14:04 pm
I haven't been as thrilled with John Sandford's Prey books either as the character of Lucas has moved from the MN cop shops - this last one was a little better - I was almost beginning to think that someone else was writing the books. Right now I am starting to re-read Michael Conelly's Bosch books, I find I have really forgotten a lot of the older books.
6/30/2021 06:04:03 pm
I hate to see the months flying by, but the one bright spot in the speed of time are your book reviews. I read Chesapeake many years ago and it might be worth revisiting. The John Sandford book is already on our 'hold' list at the library and I'm going to go now to see if the John Hart 'Lost Child' is in our system. Right now I'm reading 'Garbology' by Edward Humes - which may have been one from one of your lists....good read.
7/1/2021 07:56:21 am
Because you compared the writing to Hiaasen, I found A Man With One of Those Faces - in a collection (Part One of the Dublin Series) on Amazon (ebook)
7/1/2021 08:18:09 am
Loved listening to DEACON KING KONG by James McBride. I read this first and thought at the time it would be a good one to listen to and it was. Lots of humor.
7/1/2021 08:56:06 am
I enjoy your book posts too!
7/1/2021 01:39:35 pm
I look forward to your book reviews each month because you introduce me to new-to-me authors, you tell it like it is & save me from bad reads, and we have similar taste in genres. I usually have three books going at the same time - audio, Kindle, and "real". I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and utilize Libby through my libraries. My favorite way to describe James Michener's books is that they all begin "and the Earth cooled" and they are worth every word and every page. Love his books. Will be adding them to my "Worth Reading Again" list. I recently read (listened) to "The Muralist" - B.A. Shapiro, "All the Devils are Here" - Louise Penny (Gamache series), "West With Giraffes"- Lynda Rutledge' Jennifer Chiaverini's historical fiction books are excellent' my read agains have been Louis L'Amour & Elmer Kelton. Take Care
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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.