I've been very remiss in posting this week but it's our last week with our friends and we are taking advantage of our time together.
I have still been getting in some reading and finished 10 books this month and listened for 112 hours and 44 minutes. That doesn't include the time I wasted on my 2 DNF books for the month. My total listening time YTD is 365 hours and 15 minutes.
I'm happy to say that all-in-all it was a good reading month for me. Aside from the 2 DNF books there were only 2 books (Stolen Thoughts and A Good Day For Chardonnay) that I thought were OK. The rest I really enjoyed. It's a good mix of fiction, non-fiction and mystery so I hope you will find something you might like to read.
As always, I also want your recommendations for your best books of March.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict - found it pretty boring. Belle de Costa Green is a fascinating woman and I think I'd prefer a straight-up biography to this book that painted her as awfully superficial
When Death Becomes Life by Joshua D Mezrich - I thought this was going to tell personal stories about people involved in transplants. I turned it off when he started a very detailed description of a transplant operation
Biohacked: Family Secrets - About the sperm donor business and how, with DNA services, people are finding their sperm donor fathers.....and other stories.
Twin Flames - The story of a bizarre cult that professes to match people to their "twin flames".
Void Moon (659)
By Michael Connelly, Read By L. J. Ganser
This isn't a Bosch book. It's an older book from 2009 and, frankly, I didn't enjoy it.
Cassie Black is an ex-con under probation and working as a car salesperson. She is getting her life straight when she finds out that the daughter she gave up for adoption is being moved to France. She concocts an insane plan to get her back.
After a stupid attempt where a bunch of equally stupid and bad people get killed, she makes a decision that was completely obvious from the beginning.
The void moon is a weak mystical/bad luck reference used throughout the book. It was clear how this was going to end from the beginning.
To The Bright Edge of the World (807)
By Eowyn Ivey, Read by a cast
This is a fictional story about the exploration of the new Alaska territory in 1885. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester leads the expedition while his pregnant wife, Sophie, must stay at the Vancouver Fort for the duration. The book explores their lives while apart during the exploration and there are a lot of references to ravens and their mystical "powers".
There is a side story of letter and journals that have been handed down through the generations. The last remaining descendant of the Forrester's has sent the journals to a museum in Alaska and is corresponding with the museum curator who is reluctant, due to funding, to accept the items.
There is a good bit of mystical romance to this tale but it is well told. According to my reading diary, I read her earlier book, The Snow Child in 2013 but I don't remember anything about it.
Half a World Away (700)
By Mike Gayle, Read By Ksyi Ushe and Joanna Brooks
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle ended up on my 2022 Top 10 list. It's one of my all-time favorite books and this book proves that Mike Gayle isn't a one-hit wonder. Those of you who are fans of Gayle please excuse me, I've only just discovered him.
This story is about Kerry Hayes, a single mother and house cleaner who lives in a tough area of London. She had a difficult upbringing, mostly in an orphanage. She had a brother who is 8 years younger but when they were taken into care they were separated. Noah was adopted and is now a successful barrister. Kerry has been writing letters to him through the adoption agency for years trying to find him.
Now that she's near 40, she hires a private detective to find him so she can get in tough. It sets off a chain of events that affects both of their lives.
This is another beautifully written story by Gayle. When you are finished with this book you KNOW these people and you want to meet them. If you read this be warned that you will cry at some parts.
I'm officially declaring Bryce Courtenay, William Kent Krueger and Mike Gayle as my curretn favorite authors.
Tunnel 29 (573)
Written and Read by Helena Merriman
This one is for you non-fiction fans and it's a fascinating tale. This is the story of an escape tunnel built under the Berlin Wall in 1962. About 20 young men spent 6 months burrowing a tunnel under the wall and helped dozens escape.
The interesting twist to this particular tunnel story is that it was funded by NBC (after the project was already started). NBC wanted to film it and show the escapees coming out of the tunnel. It was one of the first documentaries of it's time and you can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube.
There are some discrepancies between the documentary and book but nothing substantial that would take away from the true story.
Dead man's Grave (707)
By Neil Lancaster, Read by Angus King
This is the 1st book is a Scottish police series featuring DS Max Craigie.
The head of a powerful Scottish crime family is murdered by an old man following through in a century-old clan feud. Craigie and detective Janine Calder are sent to investigate. Once the motive is determined, Craigie and Calder are pushed to close the case but now there are other murders that seem to be revenge.
Craigie and Calder find themselves investigating the murders but also possible corruption in the Scottish Police Service.
This was a fun read with a storyline that moved along quickly. However, if you are considering this one in audio format be sure to listen to a sample and make sure you can understand the heavy Scottish accent of the narrator. The only reason that I could listen to it was because I worked with a Scot many year ago and I eventually learned to understand what he was saying. This book might work best in paper.
Windigo Island (706)
By William Kent Krueger, Read By David Chandler
This is book #14 in the Cork O'Connor series.
The body of an Ojibwe girl washes ashore on the fabled Windigo Island. The girl ran away a year before with a friend and now there's a search for the friend. O'Connor is now a PI and has been hired to find the girl.
I generally really dislike fantasy and sci-fi elements in books so I was thinking about why I didn't mind the mystical elements (and there are many) in this series of books. The fact that I still enjoy these books I think speaks to the brilliance of Krueger's writing. He uses the mystical elements to honor the customs and traditions of the Ojibwe people whereas most authors use mystical elements and magic to lazily solve a storyline problem. At least, that's what I think.
I enjoy this series a lot. I love the characters and I love that the characters develop in each book. He also constantly introduces new characters, causes harm to some of the characters we love and kill some others off. It's kind of risky but it pays off in very rich stories.
Black Cake (722)
By Charmaine Wilkerson, Read By Lynette R. Freeman and Simone Mcintyer
This is a very popular book just released in January. It's supposed to become a Hulu series.
Eleanor Bennett has recently passed and has left history voice recording for her 2 children along with a Caribbean black cake in the freezer. Eleanor shares the story of how she born on a Caribbean island and escaped to an uncertain future.
I expect that movie produces will make this into a really interesting movie or series because the basic story is good. It's the telling of it that's a mess. It's so chopped up that it's really hard to follow. Some of the chapters are a few paragraphs long and there's no need to have broken up the story into so many parts. Overall I was disappointed in it because I did enjoy the basic storyline.
Stolen Thoughts (587)
By Tim Tigner, Read By Paul Michael
I thought this was going to be like a Michael Crichton book and it could have been. The premise is that a Stanford scientist has develop mind reading technology and is using it harmlessly in Las Vegas as a psychic. One day one of her customers tries to kill her.
She figures out that someone else had developed the same technology and is trying to get rid of her to protect their technology. Sounds good, right?
The whole thing fell flat for me. The professional assassins are inept, the scientist is deaf but seems to be able to hear at convenient times and the people trying to kill her are completely unrealistic. For example, they all live on the same floor of a building....50 year old people basically living and working together.
This is another book that could be adapted into a much better movie. At the end of this book you find out that the author eliminated 25 chapters from the beginning of the book. Thank God!
A Good Day for Chardonnay (728)
By Daryndra Jones, Read By Lorelei King
This is the second book in the Sunshine Vicram series. I read the first one in December 2020 and you can read that review here. The books definitely need to be read in order.
In this episode, Sheriff Sunshine Vicram has all kinds of skullduggery going on. There's a bar fight that might have resulted in murder, an annoying raccoon, an old lady who confesses to every crime and her teen daughter who is an escape artist and off on an investigation on her own.
These stories really aren't mystery books. I'd call them romance novels told through a mystery plot. It's very light reading so if you are looking for a good, easy beach read this series might be for you. It sort of wore on me after a while and although the book ended with a giant cliffhanger (major pet peeve) I will not read any more of them. It's just not my genre.
If you are inclined to try it out, I will warn you of one thing. There is a very graphic sex scene about 2/3 through the book. There's a lot of sex chatter and activity in the book, but I was quite surprised at the graphic details in this one part. I'm no prude. After all, I'm watching Bridgerton for the second time, but I thought this particular scene was over the top. If you read any reviews of this book, you will see this mentioned often.
They Came For Freedom (575)
By Jay Milbrandt, Read By Wayne Campbell
I expect that what most of us know about the Pilgrims is what we were taught in middle school around Thanksgiving each year. This is an in-depth history of the first Pilgrims. It talks about their persecution in England for deviating from the Church of England and their hardships on coming to this new land. In a time where we have refugees fleeing countries all over the world, this is a good reminder of our earliest refugees. It also does a good job of telling the stories of the various Native American tribes that first encountered the arriving English.
It was an interesting book but it's truly for the history buffs. It doesn't read like a novel or historical fiction. I was glad it was only a little over 8 hours and not my usual 10 hour minimum.
4/1/2022 08:07:34 am
I am definitely going to try to read a Mike Gayle book. Your description made me want to read it.
4/1/2022 09:04:48 am
I agree with your thoughts on The Personal Librarian; I was disappointed in that one. Thanks for the heads up on the Mike Gayle book.
4/1/2022 11:33:26 am
As soon as I saw the title, Stolen Thoughts, I immediately thought that it would be the type of book I would like, but then I read your comments, and am not so sure. I think I will order it from our library, if available, give it a test drive, and see how it goes. Just checked, and they only have his books in hard copy, and I have a problem with falling asleep when I physically read a book. Guess I get too relaxed and nod off.
4/4/2022 10:45:56 am
As always I enjoy your book post - and found a couple that I will look for at the library.
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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.