I didn't get quite as much reading done in June as I usually do. I "only" read 9 books. I got sidetracked with a lot of podcasts this month. I'll start my quick analysis with my two least favorite books: Magic Hour by Kristen Hannah and Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. They weren't bad book but they were a bit of a let down. I read 2 C. J. Box books this month. I needed them as palette cleansers after the two DNF books below. The books that held my atten best were the three non-fiction books: Legacy (which will be of interest to my British friends), The Least of Us (to help develop more compassion and empathy) and Nothing to Envy (to make me grateful that I was born in a Western country).
My listening time for June was 106 hours and 40 minutes. Year to date that's 728 hours and 35 minutes.
The Eight by Katherine Neville - If you like Dan Brown you will love this book. I'd guess that this book is one that inspired his writing. I'm not a fan of this genre of mystical historical artifacts with magical powers.
The Widows of Malabar Hill - I'm not sure if this is a good book or not because the narration on the audio version is intolerable. You completely lose sight of this being set in India in the 1920's with an overly excited contemporary American accent.
What good books have you read recently?
Sleeping in the Ground (659)
By Peter Robinson, Read By James Langton
I read the first in the Inspector Banks series last month and this month I've skipped to book number 24, proving that you do not need to read these books in order!
The action starts at the first paragraph with a shooter at a wedding party. The case seems to resolve itself quickly with the culprit's discovery. But something doesn't add up and Banks is on the case.
Good narration, fast paced and an enjoyable read.
By Thomas Harding, Read By Mark Meadows
If you like family or business history or if you are from the UK, I think you will enjoy this book. This is the story of the family that built the J. Lyons company, knows for the Trocadero, corner coffee houses, tea, ice cream and baked goods. But it all started with a man named Lehmann Gluckstein who escaped the pograms and immigrated to Whitechapel (London) in the early 1800's. What started as a small tobacco factory turned into a family-run empire. This is basically the story of modern Britain as told through generations of one family.
The Highway (589)
By CJ Box, Read By Holter Graham
Both of the DNF books above came after I read Legacy. I was afraid I was going to be starting a rash of bad books so I quickly picked the 2nd book in the Highway Quartet series by CJ Box. I knew I could count on Box to give me an enjoyable read.
He did not disappoint.
I think this series absolutely needs to be read in order. There's just so much that carries forward from book 1 to book 2 and I can see from publisher summaries that 3 and 4 are continuations of this book. I'm actually going to get them soon so I don't forget the various storylines.
In this one, Danielle and Gracie (from book 1) are on Thanksgiving break and driving to Montana to meet up with Danielle's boyfriend. Danielle is an incredibly annoying, irresponsible and self-absorbed young woman. She's also beautiful which makes her a great target for the truck driver that she just passed on the highway.
When they disappear, Cody Hoyt (from book 1 and father of the boyfriend) and his new police partner, Cassie Dewell start a search. They find something much bigger than just 2 girls missing.
It's very fast paced and Box isn't afraid to kill off a main character.
The Least of Us (769)
By Sam Quinnones, Read By Tom Jordan
In 2016 I read Dreamland by this same author. It was all about the OxyContin epidemic. This book is a follow up with a broader focus.
On the addiction side he talks about how synthetic opioids, like the many varieties of fentanyl, have made addiction even worse and much harder to overcome. But he also addresses how our addictions to things like sugar work in a similar way.
As to causes, he doesn't leave any stones unturned, including corporate America's focus on creating food addictions. He gives special attention to the vile Sackler family that hold special responsibility for much of the opioid crisis.
But he also talks about he we work out way out of some of this by focusing on our own communities. I couldn't put it down.
If a book like this interests you, you might also like Soft White Underbelly on YouTube. Creator, Mark Laita, posts daily interview videos with people that we would normally never meet. There's everything from drug addicts, prostitutes and pimps to homeless people, ex-cons and immigrants. He really humanizes these people and builds a little more empathy for how people end up the way they do. They don't all deserve the empathy but many do.
The House in the Woods (557)
By Mark Dawson, Read By Simon Vance
This is the first in a new series for me.
DCI Mackenzie Jones is called to a murder scene at a remote farmhouse. A couple and two of their adult children have been shot. They were discovered by the only surviving brother, Ralph Malander.
Eventually the investigation determines that Ralph is the one who killed his family. Ralphs's wife hires PI Atticus Priest to help get Ralph acquitted. Priest and Jones have a history. He used to be a detective working for her and they had also had an affair. He left the force and started his on private investigation agency.
One of Atticus' talents is his knowledge of behavioral analysis and that gave this book an interesting twist. There are only 2 books in this series so far but I look forward to others.
Nothing to Envy (749)
By Barbara Demick, Read by Karen White
I'm not sure how this book came on my radar but I'm glad it did. It was written in 2009 but it's still very relevant today.
This book is about life in North Korea as told through the lives of 6 people who were about to escape. These people aren't the privileged people of the party, these are normal everyday people who struggled to survive during the famine of the 1990's.
The author was a foreign correspondent for the LA Times assigned to Beijing and Seoul. These are the stories of people she met in South Korea and is one of the best non-fiction books I've read this year.
Before The Fall (775)
By Noah Hawley, Read By Robert Petkoff
11 passengers and 3 crew members leave Martha's Vineyard one evening for a charter flight back to New York. The plane crashes in the ocean. Scott Burroughs, a last minute passenger, and a 4 year old boy are the only survivors. The passengers are 2 very influential people and one was about to have serious legal troubles.
The book opens with the crash and then begins to tell the story of all of the passengers and crew leading up to the fateful day. It is not "one of the year's best suspense novels" as the cover says. I never really felt a lot of true suspense. I was hooked from the beginning but by the last third I felt that it slowed down. It was an interesting read and it kept me engaged. The ending wasn't really a surprise. The best part of the story was the survival of Scott and the boy and the development of their relationship.
The author is the creator of the TV series Fargo and I could easily see this as a "Who shot JR?" style series where the action happens in the first episode and the rest of the episodes try to unravel the cause of the crash.
Magic Hour (878)
By Kristen Hannah, Read by Suzanne Torren
I have a love/hate relationship with Kristen Hannah. I love some of her books and others just don't click with me. This is one of the latter.
The story is about a girl who appeared out of the forest in the Pacific Northwest. She was wild and couldn't talk. A child psychologist who has had some recent problems comes home to treat the little girl. This book is basically a Hallmark movie in book format. If you like those kinds of stories this is for you. It was a little light for my tastes. Things resolved too easily.For example, it was obvious that at some point that the girl would run away. It took all of 15 minutes to find her. I prefer my stories with a little more drama. But I finished it because I wanted to find out how a young child could live in the woods of the PNW during cold winters.
This book has been re-released for some reason so if you like KH, be sure to check and see if you have read this one already. It was originally released in 2005.
Shadow Reel (544)
By CJ Box, Read By David Chandler
This is #22 in the Joe Pickett series. I would have expected this series to have run it's course by now but I'm still enjoying it.
It's Thanksgiving 2020 and the Pickett girls are coming home for the weekend. Joe thinks he's preparing for a quiet holiday weekend when he gets notice of a dead moose carcass. On further inspection it's not a moose, it's the dead body of a local fishing guide. At the same time Joe's wife, Mary Beth, has found a mysterious Nazi artifact on the front porch of the library and doesn't know who has left it there but there seems to be someone else in town who wants it badly.
Meanwhile, Nate Romanowski, is tracking down the person who stole his falcons and attacked his wife and daughter in the last book. His track will lead him into the middle of Antifa and BLM riots in two major cities.
This one had two really interesting and creative storylines in my opinion. I was listening to a lot of it on a Monday and I got so involved in the story that I started to think it was Thursday.
I read the last 3 you share and liked them all - but the Kristin hannah one not as much - I like some of hers but not all. I have two of the CJ Box books loaded of the Cody Hoyt series but having read them yet. I have not read The House in the Woods and will look that one up
6/30/2022 01:18:47 pm
Yay - time for books! Three of your list have been added to my wish list at the library - thank you.
7/1/2022 09:23:13 am
Just a note to say thank you for your sharing what you have read and what you liked and did not!!
7/1/2022 10:55:54 am
As I was reading your review of Before the Fall, I kept feeling that it sounded so familiar to me. When you mentioned it was a re-release, the light bulb went on. I'm now listening to, Damage Control by Robert Dugoni, but haven't gotten far enough into it to have an opinion about it.
I just finished listening to the first of the Cork O'Conner books by William Kent Krueger on your recommendation and enjoyed it. Onto the second one in the series. I'm like you with Kristin Hannah books, although I just listened to "The Four Winds" and thought it was very good. I also just finished "Verity" by Colleen Hoover and thought it was very odd. I don't recommend it... it's a waste of time.
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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.