2020 has a lot of bad karma, primarily as the Year of Covid. But, for me, it's also the Year of Books and that's a really good thing. I'm running through books at a really fast pace. Books are the perfect escape from everything that's going on now. Chris and I go days without turning on the TV. In the evenings we like to just sit and read (and crochet or quilt).
Before I get into the books I read this month I'll quickly tell you about two books that I couldn't be bothered to finish:
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds: This should have been right up my alley but this author could not have made it more boring and his narration made it even worse.
The Real Watergate Scandal: Watergate was the first political event that I remember being engaged with as a young person. I thought it would be interested to revisit it 40+ years later from another perspective. I think he has some good information and points but the presentation is painfully rambling.
What have you read (that you liked) this month? I need a continual supply of recommendations!
By Lalita Tademy, Read By Bahni Turpin
Tademy is a brilliant writer and storyteller. Her books are fiction but they are based on her own ancestry and the intense genealogy she has done on her family. I read her first book, Citizen Creek, a few years ago and absolutely loved it.
This one tells the story of the post- Civil War reconstruction in Louisiana and starts with the Colfax Riot of Easter Sunday in 1873. The book tells the story of the Tademy's and Smith's as they try to build better lives for themselves and their families in the generations to follow.
Bahni Turpin could narrate a biology textbook and I'd listen to it.
My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry
By Fredrik Backman, Read By Juan Walker
I'll admit that I only got this book because it was free from the library and I wanted to see if I'd like it better than A Man Called Ove.
I think that Backman struggles with making his lead character consistently true to their age. Ove was only 57 but if you didn't know that you would swear that he was 85. In this book the main character, Elsa, is 7. Sometimes she behaves like a 4 years old and other times she's allowed the independence of a teenager. If you liked Ove, you will love this because I think it's better. But, for me, it was still tedious and plodding.
By Kathleen Tessaro, Read By Susan Bennett
I read another of Tessaro's book in January, The Perfume Collector, and I loved it.
Rare Objects is set in depressio-era Boston. Maeve Fanning is a poor 1st generation Irish immigrant. She's a bit on the wild side and loves fast men and lots of gin. She ends up in a psychiatric hospital after having an abortion. There she meets Diana van der Laar. She doesn't realize who Diana is until a few years later, while working in a antique store, she delivers some items to the van der Laar family. She and Diana re-connect and Maeve becomes entwined with the family and Diana's handsome brother.
It was a good read, although most of the characters are quite unlikable for most of the book. But they do grow and develop....mostly.
By Michael Connelly, Read By Peter Giles and Zach Villa
First off, I want to mention that Zach Villa narrates the part of the villain and he sounds a lot like Jon Hamm - he was hard to hate.
This is the third in a series focused on a reporter named Jack McEvoy. The first 2 books were published several years ago (1996 and 2009) so maybe as the Bosch novels fade he's focusing more on this storyline and the Mickey Haller books. If so, I'm cool with that. Bosch is getting a little stale.
In this one McEvoy is now working with in digital media at a website, FairWarning (which happens to be real), writing about consumer protection topics. One day he is stopped by police to be questioned over the death of a woman that he met at a bar a year ago. He hasn't seen her since. But as he's drawn into the case he discovers other similar murders and a link to a DNA processing website.
I enjoyed it and it was a refreshing break from Bosch. I think it's very current in the way it brings up risks with DNA processing sites just as those sites have been selling massive DNA databases to commercial companies and government entities.
The Book of Longings
By Sue Monk Kidd, Read By Mozhan Marno
The Secret Life of Bees is one of my all-time favorite books but I haven't red any more of Kidd's books since the huge disappointment of The Mermaid's Chair. Some authors only have one good book in them and that's what I felt about Kidd.
Recently I've been seeing this book on a lot of recommended lists so I decided to give it a try and I'm glad I did.
In this book Kidd imagines that Jesus had a wife. Her name is Ana and she is raised with wealth as the daughter of the head scribe to the ruler of Galilee. Judas is her adopted brother. Her father allows her to learn to read and write and she begins to document the lives of important women. Her ambition and knowledge, however, is her downfall when she is betrothed to an older widower at the age of 14. It's during this time that she first meets Jesus. She marries him and settles with him and his family in Nazareth. With Jesus finding his faith and following John the Baptist their lives grow more complex and tumultuous.
First, as a book, it's really compelling story with well-developed characters and perfect narration. I did find Ana with a few too many of our modern feminist traits but it wasn't "in your face" and every culture and society does have it's outliers. The hang up for many people will be the proposal that Jesus was married. The Bible doesn't say he was or wasn't but it's assumed that he wasn't. Kidd is simply imagining that he might have been. If it's something you think you would have problems with I'd suggest listening to her afterward first where she explains the genesis of the book. I think the whole story was very respectfully done.
I'll say this. It was a nice escape from the craziness that's going on outside right now.
The Last Trial
By Scott Turow, Read By John Bedford Lloyd
I haven't read a Turow book in a bout 20 years. It was book 3 in the Kindle County series and featured the attorney Sandy Stern. This one is book 11 and it's Sandy's last trial before he retires.He's 85 and his last case will be the defense of his friend, Kiril Pafko. Pafko is a Nobel Prize winner and accused of fraud, insider trading and murder (from side effect of his new cancer drug).
I haven't spent any time in courtrooms but I do expect that the tedious courtroom scenes in this book are true to form. The whole book is kind of pointless. There's not much personal conflict, no romance, no real character development or revelations. the whole thing wraps up making me believe that justice is completely pointless.
The Giver of Stars
By Jojo Moyes, Read by Julia Whalen
It was fun to be listening to this book while we were hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, in the Southern region of the Appalachian Mountains. The book tells a story of the real packhorse libraries of Kentucky
By Stephen Fry, Read By Stephen Fry
In this case the author narrating the book was perfect! Of course, he's an actor so he would make a great narrator.
I love the Greek myths and Fry's telling of them is the best presentation I've read so far. For some reason I was able to (finally) follow the stories and Gods from Chaos to the Premordials to the Titans and then the Olympians. He's a great storyteller and I look forward to reading Heroes, the second book that covers the Olympians and the mortal heroes. If you like the Greek myths you will enjoy this book. If you think you might want to learn about the Greek myths this is a great place to start.
By Esi Edugyan, Read By Dion Graham
This is the fictional story of George Washington Black (Wash). Wash was born a slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados. We meet him at the age of 10 when he is put in the path of the brother of the plantation manager, Christopher Wilde (Titch). The timeframe is 1840's - 1850's and it's not about American slavery. Titch takes Wash to be his manservant and assistant in building a hot air balloon. Titch teaches Wash to read and write and discovers that he has great artistic talent and capacity for learning.
Wash's life goes from Barbados to Virginia to the Artic to Nova Scotia to London to Morocco. It ends in an African dessert where he is reunited with his benefactor.
While I love Din Graham I felt htat his voice was too mature and deep for a 10 year old boy growing into a young man. There were many times during the book that I had to remind myself of Wash's age because the narration made me think he was a mature man.
I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. It has universal rave reviews and I was really into it for the first half but I started losing interest near the end. His story, to me, was told as a series of stops on a train and in the end I was just in a hurry to get to the end.
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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.