Even though I ended May with three DNF (did not finish) books, all-in-all it was a good month. Fourteen books finished just might be a record for me. There's nothing like two trips in one month to increase the available reading time!
I'm excited to have found two new mystery series by Peter Robinson and CJ Box and I always love a Dugoni mystery. My favorite fiction books were The Girl in the Painting and The Lost Orphan. In non-fiction I learned so much from Unsettled.
My listening time for May was 146 hours and 2 minutes. Year to date that's 621 hours and 55 minutes.
All That Remains by Sue Black. It's supposed to be about forensic science but it's mostly a memoir. I got annoyed when she spent a chapter deriding anyone who believes in any sort of afterlife and followed that whit a chapter about her dead grandmother hanging out on her left shoulder and how she opened a window to let her father's spirit leave.
A Question of Betrayal by Anne Perry. This is #2 in the Elena Standish series and Elena is the worst MI6 agent ever. She can barely decide what to wear. I just couldn't tolerate it.
The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman - we tried listening to this on the way to the beach but we both thought it was horrible
What books did you love and hate in May?
Gallows View (525)
By Peter Robinson, Read By Mark Honan
This is a short book for me (under 10 hours). I think one of you recommended it and it was available at the library so I gave it a try since it was free! I'm glad I did. It was an enjoyable read.
I's the first book in the Inspector Banks series. Alan Banks has retired from the London police. He's relocated to Yorkshire and taken and "easy" job in the local police.
There's a voyeur harassing women outside their homes but he's not leaving clues. One day an elderly woman is found brutally murdered in her home and Chief Inspector Banks wonders if the peeper has changed his MO.
Damage Control (682)
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Christopher Lane
Dugoni writes several series that I like but this one is a stand-alone. We picked this book (and the next one) to be our car ride books to and from Paducah. This one is perfect for a car full of women because the men are the evil element of this book.
Dana Hill is an attorney as a Seattle law firm. Her husband is also an attorney and he leaves the child care totally up to her. She's finding it difficult to balance her life. Life becomes more difficult when she receives a devastating medical diagnosis and then find out her twin brother has been murdered.
She does not believe that her brother's murder was a robbery gone wrong so she teams up with the detective, Michael Logan, to get to the truth. It leads to some dangerous places and situations. Dana does have a knack for making some stupid decisions but the book is fast paced and a fun read.
Murder One (681)
By Robert Dugoni, Read By Dan Jon Miller
On our return trip I let Anne pick a book from the ones I had downloaded and she picked another Dugoni.
This is the 4th book in the David Sloan series. Sloan is an attorney in Seattle. He's still recovering from the murder of his wife. On his first outing he runs into another attorney, Barclay Reid who is still dealing with the death of her daughter from an overdose. She got a bad batch of heroin that killed her.
Barclay is on a personal crusade against the drug dealer and when one legal avenue closes for her, conveniently the dealer ends up dead. She becomes the prime suspect and Sloan defends her.
All of the Dugoni books are fast paced and full of twists. They are fun reads. It's another good one for the car.
The Girl in the Painting (676)
By Tea Cooper, Read By Casey Withoos
This book was a nice change of pace from the previous two mysteries. This tells the story of a young orphaned math prodigy, Jane Piper. It's Australia in 1906 when Michael Quinn, with his sister, Elizabeth, take Jane into their home to give her a better education. They are knows to provide opportunities for many of the orphans but Jane's aptitude is special.
Jane has become almost a member of the family and works with Elizabeth doing the accounts for the family business. One day she's with Elizabeth when Elizabeth has a horrible reaction to a painting. Something evoked terror in her and Jane thinks it's a repressed memory as written about by Freud. Jane sets out to help Elizabeth understand her reaction.
The book goes back and forth in 3 time periods pretty seamlessly. I really enjoyed it.
The Surrogate (543)
By Toni Halleen, Read by a cast
I've got really mixed feelings about this book. It's about the surrogacy process and pretty much sets a scene where every possible thing that could go wrong, does.
Ruth us a 40ish journalist who wants a baby with her new husband, Hal. Hal already has 2 children from a previous marriage. They enter into a private surrogacy contract with Cally, who will use the money to pay for college. When Cally has the baby she is reluctant to give the baby up. That sets off a series of bad decisions by pretty much everyone. It's actually a good premise for a story but most of the characters are supremely annoying and emotionally immature. Ruth is the worst.
I finished the book but found it kind of disturbing. The behavior of the hospital staff during the birth and after Cally's disappearance is completely unacceptable. Hal and Ruth are annoying. Ruth is an emotional train wreck and Cally is immature. If I were considering surrogacy and read this book, I'd never do it.
Back of Beyond (660)
By C. J. Box, Read By Holter Graham
I really enjoy Box's Joe Pickett series and I didn't know until recently that he had other books. This is the first in a 4-book series called Highway Quartet. Cody Hoyt is a brilliant cop but he's also an alcoholic and has only been sober 2 months when his AA mentor is murdered. Hank Winter has been sober 14 years and Cody doesn't believe the initial assessment of alcohol-induced accident.
Clues in Hank's cabin link to a outfitter who leads wilderness tours into Yellowstone. Cody thinks that the killer is on the current tour along with his son and ex-wife's fiancé. What follows is a fast paced cat-and-mouse game to find the killer and make sure his son is safe.
I think Box does a great job of painting a scene. I felt like the imagery of Yellowstone back country and the experiences of the campers was accurate. It's not a place I want to go, that's for sure!
The Sun's Heartbeat (540)
By Bob Berman
I actually read this book with my own eyes! I took it to Paducah to start reading in the hotel and finished it at home. It's not available in audio format (it's 10 years old) so I estimated my reading time at 9 hours.
This book has some strong positives and one annoying negative.
This is a great book to learn about the sun and how it influences life on earth. It's well ordered and is written for non-scientists, like me. It starts with the history of the study of the sun and I was surprised at how recent our knowledge is and how little we still know about it. From that point I loved it and would recommend it.
The one annoying bit is that the writer is too clever. It seem that every other paragraph has some witty aside. That's fine occasionally but it was overdone in this book. But if you are a casual science reader you would still like this book.
Villa of Sun and Secrets (572)
By Jennifer Bohnet, Read By Julia Franklin
I picked up this book because I read about it on someone else's book list and it was free on Audible in May. I knew it was going to be "chick lit" but I was ready for a summer read.
Surprisingly, while it is women's literature, it was better than I expected!
Carla Sullivan is turning 50 and she's just discovered that her husband is having another affair. Her children are grown and she wants to get away. That becomes a possibility when she finds a letter in her mother's estate. He mother has written a letter to her twin sister in France and Carla decides to deliver it personally. Her aunt and mother haven't talked or seen each other in years so she's excited to meet her Aunt Josette again.
Their relationship starts off tentatively but over time a lifetime of secrets begin to unfold as Carla starts to decide what to do with the rest of her life. It's a good story but the narration is a bit over the top. You eventually get used to it.
The Lost Orphan (591)
By Stacey Hills, read By Elizabeth Knowelden and Imogen Church
This was a nice find in Chirp.
The story starts in London in 1754. Bess Bright left her newborn baby at the Foundling Hospital 6 years ago and she's returning to reclaim her daughter. She arrives only to discover that the records show that she claimed the girl the day after she left her. Clara has never lived at the hospital.
Nearby, a reclusive widow named Alexandra, is encouraged by her friend - a doctor from the orphanage - to hire a nursemaid to help care for her young daughter. Both of their pasts will soon collide.
It's a good story of class differences, mother/daughter relationships and dealing with trauma. I enjoyed the book and the narration.
Mary Barton (977)
By Elizabeth Gaskell, Read By Juliet Stevenson
Elizabeth Gaskell wrote in the 1840's about life in England at the time. This is the third novel of hers that I have read and I've enjoyed all of them.
This one is set in Manchester England during the time of the Chartist movement. Mary is the daughter of a tradesman who has lost his wife and lost his chartist petition. Mary is just barely holding them above water but she's also dealing with two men who want her affections. One is her lifelong friend, Jem and the other is the wealthy son of a Manchester mill owner, Henry Carson. When Henry is murdered Jem is the prime suspect.
The book follows is very contemporary to it's time and that makes it even more interesting. It had a bit of a slow start for me but once it got going I was hooked. I'm glad that Audible has made a recoding of this classic.
What climate science tells us, what it doesn't and why it matters
By Stephen E. Koonin
Leading up to vacation I like to spend some time each day getting a little bit of sun so that I don't scorch myself the first day on the beach. I read paper books when I'm relaxing in the sun. Is there a better read for that activity than a book about climate change?
I've been interested in climate change modeling ever since I was involved with modeling my company's insurance portfolio against hurricane and earthquake exposure. Compared to climate models, hurricane and earthquake models for the insurance industry are very simple but still complex in their own right. Yet, they are spectacularly and consistently wrong. I was working with them when Katrina happened and I cannot overestimate what garbage they were at estimating the losses on our portfolios......We paid a lot of money to license those models too.
So it was around that time that climate change made it on my radar and I make it a point to read books (not the news because the news is fear mongering garbage too) about the subject written by real scientists. I wanted to understand how climate models could be so good when our weather and catastrophe models are all so bad. I don't share many of those books because many of them are incredibly biased in their own right. But I think this one is different. I know it's different because the media refuses to talk about it.
Steven Koonin has incredible credentials. He was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech and vice president and provost of that university for 10 years. But he is most knows at the Undersecretary for Science in the Depart of Energy in the Obama administration.
I think this is a really important book for us "normal" people. He takes a methodical approach at teaching us how to understand and interpret what we are told by the media and politicians. He goes through many aspect of climate science and explains what we know and , importantly, what we don't know. He is not a climate change "denier" but he is also not a climate alarmist. He's a methodical scientist and this book is the best I've read on the subject so far.
The Dark Hours (664)
By Michael Connelly, Read by Christine Lakin and Titus Welliver
This is supposedly #23 in the Harry Bosch series but it's really a Renee Ballard (#3) novel and the whole thing was one big "ugh" for me.
It kicks off New Year's Eve 2020 with the murder of a man during a celebratory street party. Ballard quickly learns that it's connected to an unsolved murder that Harry Bosch (now retired) worked and is unsolved. The case file is missing so she visits Bosch to learn more about the case.
At the same time there's a pair of serial rapists called the Midnight Men and they have struck again. She's determined to solve both while following no protocols, annoying everyone around her, taking a lot of unnecessary risks and being a total Karen about mask protocols.
This story was light on Bosch and heavy on politics and covid. I didn't enjoy it and I don't think it will age well.
Vengeance Road (617)
By Rick Mofina, Read By Graham Rowat
This was the book Chris and I settled on to listen to during our drive. It was better than our first choice, The Tale Teller, but not by much.
Karl Styebeck is a hero police officer in Buffalo. When two women are killed in a local notorious park, he's linked to the murders.
A local reporter, Jack Gannon, becomes obsessed with the case and pursues it relentlessly.
The problem with this book is that the actual mystery is weak and was easy to solve. To make the book "long enough" he filled it with all sorts of background information all through the story. It was fine for a car ride
An Irish Heart (600)
By Sharon Doyle Driedger
This is the book I chose for my beach read. It's not available in audio format. I found this book in a bookstore in Emerald Isle, NC.
As a US citizen I didn't get any Canadian history in my education but as someone of Irish descent it still resonated with me.
The subtitle is a little misleading because it should read "how Montreal systematically killed off it's Irish heart".
It's incredibly well researched and tells the story of Irish immigration to Canada. They were historically treated just as poorly as they were in the US. But they made lives for themselves and their families in a town called Griffintown. Over the years the French and English in Montreal gradually erased Griffintown and, with it, any Irish character in the city.
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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.