Several weeks ago my friend, Marcy, introduced me to Chirp books. While they don't have everything they do have some good bargains. Some of the books are older which is a good thing for me. So many of the new books are overloaded with political tropes that the authors seem to have forgotten how to develop deep characters and story lines. Older books don't have as many of these issues and I'm enjoying reading them. Several of the books this month came from Chirp. In fact I might have started a Chirp book hoarding problem. I seem to buy one off of ever daily deal email.
So now I have 3 book apps on my phone: Audible, Libby and Chirp. I can always find something good to read. Here's what I came up with this month.
Code Girls and Surviving Savannah were my favorites and Digital Minimalism is the book that I'd recommend to everyone.
Books that I didn't finish:
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn - This isn't a bad book but it wasn't for me. It's Rear Window meets Girls on a Train. and that's just not my genre. Interestingly I discovered that there are plagiarism claims against the author over this book. It's about to be a movie and there's a movie planned about the plagiarism claims.
More Ketchup than Salsa by Joe Cawley - supposed to be comparable to Hiaasen. Not even close and the deep Scottish accent is hard for this Southerner to follow.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - I was one hour in and realized that I hadn't paid any attention to it at all.
Peace Like A River - Leif Enger - Probably a good book once you get into it but it's a really slow start with a lot of details of goose hunting. I can get that from my husband every fall if I want.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles - seems like a fine story but poorly written. I expect it's better as a movie.
Lincoln's Last Trial
By Dan Abrams and David Fisher
Read By Adam Verner
This isn't technically Lincoln's last trial before becoming president, but it was the last murder trial. It was the summer of 1859 and Peachy Quinn, 22, went on trial for the murder. Springfield was a small town so Lincoln was close to the families of the victim (one of his law proteges) and the accused. Everyone knew everyone.
The claim that this trial propelled him to the presidency is an overreach. Lincoln had already started pursuing a national political career with a series of debates and speeches so this case garnered wider attention as a result.
I've got mixed feelings about this book. The actual discussion of the trial wasn't all that interesting to me. It's more-or-less a reading of the court transcript. It was interesting to learn a little more about the history of law practice in the US. There was good information in the book and parts that I enjoyed but it was a bit dry.
By Cynthia Swanson, Read By Katie Mazur
I have started following a few book reviewers in YouTube and picked up this book recommendation from one of them. It's a debut novel set in the 1960's. Kitty Miller lives in Denver and co-owns a book store with her best friend, Frieda. She starts having very realistic dreams where she is Katharyn Andersson, is married and has children. It's the life she always dreamed of. Can she choose which to stay in?
When I started this book I thought it was going to be a fantasy book, like Outlander and I almost quit reading it (because I hate fantasy books). But I decided to keep going to give the fantasy genre another try. It wasn't long before I realized that this book isn't fantasy at all. It's different and interesting even though you will likely figure out the ending pretty quickly. It's not a mystery, it's a journey. It's not the most stellar writing. Her husband and parents are not well developed and their dialogue is straight out of Leave It To Beaver. But the dilemma and resolution is very interesting and is a lesson in dealing with brokenness.
The narrator was a little slow so I had to speed it up a bit and that helped a lot.
By Liza Mundy, Read By Erin Bennett
This is the true story of women codebreakers during WWII. If you read, and enjoyed, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, you will like this book too. The story of Elizabeth Friedman is also told in this book so there's a little overlap. It was a little disjointed for me but that's a really minor complaint for a very interesting book.
These women are heros.
By Patti Callahan, Read by Catherine Taber and Brittany Pressley
The Steamship Pulaski was called "The Titanic of the South" when it sunk off Okracoke Island in 1838. The wreckage was recovered only a few years ago. That's the historical part of this novel. The fiction part is about Everly Winthrop, a history professor and museum curator in Savannah, GA. Savannah was the home port for the victims of the steamship explosion and many stories have been passed through the generations. Everly's Grandfather stoked her interest with all of the stories that he told her growing up about the steamship and passengers.
When the steamship is discovered she is asked to curate an artifacts exhibit for the local museum. She becomes very focused on the Longstreet family. The story it told during the two time periods from the Longstreet family members and Everly's discoveries and her struggles with her own grief.
Really well written and narrated. It was interesting to do some side research on the Pulaski.
Missing For Good
By Alex Coombs, Read By Carolyn Bonnyman
This is the second in the PI Hanlon series. I haven't read the first one. This one was on sale at Chirp so I picked it up. As best as I can tell, book 1 isn't' available in audio.
The story is set in Scotland and Hanlon seems to have left a detective job and gone out on her own as a private investigator.
Scotland's premier art dealer has hired Hanlon to find his daughter, Aurora. There's a good chance that she doesn't even want to have any connection with him. The agreement is that Hanlon will find her, and if she's alive, will take a photo to prove that she's alive and well and it will be up to Aurora to contact him. As Hanlon digs in she discovers that Aurora has an interesting past with some edgy friends. The search becomes very dangerous the closer Hanlon gets.
I don't think this is a widely read book and it's not the very best written book I've read, but I did enjoy the story.
By Cal Newport, Read By Will Damron
I've been working hard to get myself off my phone. I took Facebook and Instagram off my phone and that's been wonderful. But I have a long way to go. I still have my phone tethered to me because of my audiobooks and that means that I pick it up way too often to check mail and messages.
This book is all about why and how we can reduce our dependence on digital media. It's a worthwhile read.
Dead In The Water
By Penny Farmer, Read By Tess Gallagher
I love true crime books and podcasts. This is an interesting case. In 1978 UK citizens Chris Farmer and his girlfriend, Peta Frampton were found dead in the sea off Guatemala. It was pretty clear from the beginning that they were murdered by American Silas Duane Boston. They had been passengers on his boat when they died.
This is the story of why it took 40 years to get a case brought against Boston. It's a really interesting story and reminds us of how hard it was to work internationally in 1978 and reminds us of how often crimes only get solved because families stay involved in the search and pursuit. The murder was witnessed by Boston's young sons and they were also thwarted when they tried to tell people what happened. The story is really bizarre and interesting.
I thought the book was a little draggy. You can tell that it was incredibly cathartic for Chris' sister to write the book but it could have used some editing. But if you like true crime you will enjoy this and there's a connection to the Golden State Killer that actually helped finally get traction on this particular case.
By Margery Sharp, Read By Anna Parker-Naples
It's 1875 London and Adelaide Culver has been raised in very comfortable circumstances. She shocks everyone when she marries a poor artist. She finds herself now living in the impoverished Britannia Mews where she must try to make a good life for herself.
The story follows Adelaide and her family through her life in the Mews. It explores what brings us happiness in a very thoughtful way.
If you like Edith Wharton and John Galsworthy I think you will like this. I don't think this is quite as good as those but I enjoyed it.
By M.J. McGrath, Read by Kate Reading
This is a new-to-me series set in the Artic among the Inuit people. Edie Kiglatuk is the best hunting guide around but she is discriminated against in her community on Ellesmere Island. (Could it be because she's an alcoholic?) When one of her clients is shot and killed on her hunt and then one of her relatives commits suicide, Edie sets out to investigate on her own.
First off, EVERYONE has either a drinking, Xanax or Meth habit. Second, our unrealistic alcoholic heroine is smarter and stronger than all the men around her. I'm so tired of that trope. Finally, there's a weird side story about Lemmings that used just to lead up to the last scene of the book.
I didn't love it.
The First Cell
By Azra Raza
When I'm on vacation I really enjoy the luxury of "reading" books. You know, the ones written on real paper that you hold in your hands and use your eyeballs to read the words. I especially love reading non-fiction this way. I saved this book specifically for our beach trip.
I have mixed feelings about the book. The first and last chapters have some really valuable information on the true state of cancer research and treatment. Spoiler alert: we haven't made any significant progress in 50 years after spending billions on research and, on top of that, our doctors aren't really allowed to tell us the truth about our real prognosis on treatments. So, all of that was really interesting and would be helpful to anyone affected by cancer.
The rest of the book was case histories of her own patients. I wasn't so happy with these sections. I don't feel like she really advanced the narrative much and it kind of showed her to be a bit partial to certain groups of patients. That may be unfair, but she is the one who gushed about personal connections with specific patients, generally based on political or racial backgrounds. Her editors should have removed that stuff because I really don't believe that she treats her patients differently but that's kind of the way it came across.
The underlying theme, though, is that we are spending too much money trying to cure late stage cancers instead of developing ways to find and eradicate the first cancer cell which would be much less toxic.
She has been collecting samples and doing research in this field for about 30 years and seems miffed that her database isn't in demand.
Like I said, for the cancer patient or family member of cancer patients, there's some really good information here but most of it is in the first and last chapters.
The Nocturnal Brain
By Guy Leschziner
My other beach read was this book. It's also done in a case study format but was much better than the first cell. Neuroscience fascinates me. I tried reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker last year on vacation and, seriously, fell asleep every time I started reading it. This book is vastly more interesting and would be interesting to anyone having sleep issues or trying to sleep with someone having sleep issues.
It is presented as a series of case studies to explain different types of sleep disorders including: delayed sleep phase syndrome, night terrors, inability to sleep, sleep walking, narcolepsy and epilepsy. After reading this I realized why I didn't like The First Cell. In this book, the case studies are truly patient centric. In The First Cell, the case studies are more physician-centric. This book was much more interesting throughout the book.
5/31/2021 04:45:05 pm
I really liked The Bookseller too, an interesting psychological study. I hadn't heard the plagiarism on Woman in the Window, the movie is out on Netflix now. If you have Netflix, and you want to really get an insight on our digital world, see The Social Dilemma. It will open your eyes as to how social media conspires to keep us online. I don't own a smart phone and every day I am more glad of that!
5/31/2021 06:08:38 pm
I hate how the months seem to be flying by but then I remember that I get to add more books to my reading list via your reviews.
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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.