Oops! I forgot to post yesterday. Maybe I was having too much fun ironing! So today I will play catch up.
This month in books was an odd one. There were too many bad books! But paying for bad books sent me back to the library to get Overdrive working again and to get a library card at another library that has a better selection of audiobooks. Where we live you can get a library card at the neighboring library system if you have a card at your local system. My local system is Pamunkey and the neighboring one is Henrico. (We like our Native American names here a lot.) The library is on the way home from Mom's so I'd just stop by one day on my way home. It wasn't as simple as I envisioned. The first stop was a Thursday morning, the only morning they are closed. The second stop involved discovering that I had to have my local library card with me. Third time was the charm and on the advice of one of you I decided to switch to the Libbie app. WHAT AN IMPROVEMENT! Libbie is so much better than Overdrive.
After my last book in Overdrive my library card suddenly stopped working and I couldn't figure out how to get it working again. I loaded the Henrico card and then magically my Pamunkey card appeared and now I can access both libraries. They don't have near the number of audiobooks that Audible has but I can probably cut my Audible expense in half and that wouldn't be a bad thing. So buying a few bad books will turn out to be a very good thing for me in the long run.
On to the books. It was mostly a month of "old reliables" as I continued several series. Only one non-fiction this month but The Path Between The Seas was a great one.
What have you read recently that you have loved?
Revenge in a Cold River
By Anne Perry, Narrated by David Colacci
This is book #22 in the William Monk series. I appreciate Anne Perry's ability to keep this series interesting without delving into gimmicks like characters developing supernatural capabilities. In this one we finally start to learn things about Monk's past before he lost his memory.
People from a past he doesn't remember come back to haunt him and once they discover that he doesn't remember that time in his life he is set up as revenge.
Paris in the Present Tense
By Mark Helprin, Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
First let me tell you what's great about this book: the narration! I think this is the second book I've listened to that was narrated by Pinchot and Balki has mad narration skills!
I picked up this book in a "Deal of the Day" offering and, given how Helprin has fallen out of favor, I'm surprised that Audible offered it. But I'm here for the stories, not politics, so I decided to give it a go.
Helprin writes beautiful prose and all of his characters are unbelievably clever, have broad vocabularies and speak their thoughts and intentions exquisitely clearly. In other words, his characters are mostly unbelievable.
The story is about a 74 year old Frenchman who is dealing with the normal kinds of challenges that a 74 year old deals with....except that he's as healthy as a 40 year old. He's made decisions that haven't helped him plan for the challenges of this time in his life, he's carrying around burdens from his past and he falls deeply in love with every woman he meets and fancies that they are in love with him.
It was a beautifully written but mediocre story. At the end of it all I just thought he was a crazy old man who should have planned his life a little better.
By Jon Sandford, Narrated by Richard Ferrone
After reading a disappointing book I generally search for something reliable for my next read and, for me, there's no one more reliable than John Sandford. This is the 28th book in the Prey series featuring Lucas Davenport. Davenport is now with the US Marshall Service and he's called to Washington DC to investigate a car accident that killed a US Senator. The surviving passenger, thinks it was no accident that that Davenport's nemesis (from book #27), Taryn Grant, may be behind the accident and a number of other events.
The Path Between the Seas
By David McCullough, Narrated by Nelson Runger
My favorite McCullough book is The Great Bridge about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge so when I saw this one about the building of the Panama Canal I just had to read it. It was published earlier than The Great Bridge but just as interesting. Both books remind us of a time when the US lead the world in great engineering feats. I believe that responsibility has now been relegated to the Chinese because we, sadly, would never take the kinds of risks required to build a Panama Canal today.
It's really well written, as you would expect and very thoroughly researched. It begins with the French attempt to build the canal. That part was a little difficult for me to follow but once the book got to Teddy Roosevelt and the American project I was all in.
After listening to The Path Between the Seas I hit an unprecedented run of bad books. I don't think this has ever happened before and it's made me sour on Audible Deal of the Day books! I couldn't finish any of these books but I'll give each a little mention:
Macbeth: A Novel by David Hewson and AJ Hartley. I thought that a novel format might make Macbeth more palatable to me. I was wrong. I listened longer than I should but only because I enjoyed the sound of Alan Cumming's voice.
West With the Night by Beryl Marhham. This is an autobiography of an amazing woman who lived an amazing life as a pilot in Kenya. She also trained racehorses. This book receives rave reviews but it just didn't hit with me. I was expecting something as beautifully written as Out of Africa and I was disappointed. It did spur me to do some research on her so that's good.
The Enigma of Reason by by Hugo Mercer and Dan Sperber. You know a book is going to be tough when the intro is an hour. It's tedious and the narrator makes things worse.
Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger
After three losers I had to find an "old reliable" and jumped into the 7th installment of the Cork O'Connor series. In this one Cork is a new private investigator and his first client is Henry Meloux. Henry has asked Cork to help find his 72 year old son that he's never met.
There's a new narrator for the series now and that was a little difficult to get used to but it was still a good read.
The Honest Spy
By Andreas Kollender, Narrated by Malcolm Hilgartner
Fritz Kolbe worked for the German Foreign Office at the start of WWII and he wasn't a support of Hitler and the Nazi Party. During the war he approached the US and became the most important spy of the war. Allen Dulles was his handler and says that it was the work with Kolbe that was key to his becoming the first civilian Director of the CIA.
That's all true.
This book is a novel based on the life of Kolbe. There's a lot in it that isn't necessarily true but the point is to give us an idea of what he life might have been like. It's not the most riveting book that I've ever read but I did enjoy it.
The premise is that Kolbe is telling his story to journalists after the war so the scenes in the book jump back and forth between the events of the war and the conversation with the journalists. That's all fine except that the narrator needed to take a little break between the changes. Sometimes I felt lost because it was narrated as one continuing event. But, otherwise, the narrator did a fine job.
By Margaret George, Narrated by Kate Reading
The month of June was "saved" from the bast taste of 3 loser books by another Margaret George masterpiece. I started reading her books with Memoirs of Cleopatra which is still one of my all-time favorite books.
This historical fiction is narrated by Elizabeth. It's clear that George does an amazing amount of research because so much of the story is true but she adds the color that makes it a great novel. I found myself on Wikipedia several times to research particular things that came up in the book. It was 31 hours long but it was a very pleasant 31 hours.
By David Baldacci, Narrated by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy
This is the second book in the Will Robie series. My review of the first wasn't a good one but since I was able to get this one free through the library I decided to give it a try.
Will Robie and Jessica Reel are government employed assassins. Jessica has gone "off the farm" and is killing high-ranking employees of the government. Will is assigned to find her and bring her in, or kill her.
It's a better story than the first one but, with Baldacci, you have to suspend any need for plausibility. Baldacci's writing is starting to annoy me. There are impossible clues that only these two can read, convenient escape routes and lazy leaps in the story. He also has an annoying habit of introducing characters as "the man" or "the woman". It's a lot to keep track of when the character is finally revealed. "oh, he is that man from earlier".
There's a lot of action and I did finish the book because I wanted to see how it ended but it wasn't a particularly satisfying read. John Grishom lost me years ago when his writing got lazy and I think Baldacci has reached the same level.
I'm agreeing with you on Baldacci - I liked the earliest of his books the best and they were stand alone not series - once they start series the first are good and then go downhill for most it seems.
7/1/2018 11:58:32 am
I enjoy all of your posts, and especially like your book reviews/recommendations. Each year I do a reading challenge instead of New Year resolutions, and this year is female authors only. I have discovered many new "favorites" (Ronlyn Dominque, Louise Penny, Anne Hillerman), and I'm always looking for more new-to-me authors. I discovered Libby this year (thanks to my local library where I use to live) - love it, so many choices and easy to maneuver through the site. Thanks for sharing your reading experiences.
7/2/2018 05:53:56 pm
I always enjoy your reading posts Vicki - whether your reviews are good or bad. Definitely will search out the John Sandford book....thanks.
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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.