Lockdown continues to provide me with a lot of reading time. Rainy days on vacation kept my reading spree going. All in all it was a good book month. In non-fiction I loved The Mastermind and Catch and Kill. Both are really worthwhile reads. I was really happy to read another Department Q book, Victim 2117 but my very favorite book of the month is The Book of Lost Friends.
What recommendations do you have for me this month?
Apprentice Scarlet City
By Rebecca Gable, Read By a huge cast of B actors
This is an Audible original production of a book written in the 1950's and it's the first part of a trilogy. I could see where this book might have been one of the forerunners of the historical fiction genre. It was probably great in it's time but today's readers require a lot more historical accuracy.
The story centers around Jonah Durham, a young apprentice to his uncle's fabric trade. Through a whole lot of luck and unbelievable inheritance, he becomes a very rich merchant.
What really destroys this book is the production. Sometimes there's background music behind the narrator (annoying) and sometimes not (better). The background to everything else is either steps, door opening, revelry or nature sounds. Except for one time when there's a baby cooing as the Queen is doing business. You can be sure that would never have happened! The royals barely saw their children! I found it all extremely distracting. There's one kissing scene where the kissing sounds are hilarious! Imagine recording yourself kissing your hand loudly. The book would have been much better with a straight forward narration by one of Audible's great narrators and leave out the sound production by the local high school arts department.
By Evan Ratliff, Read By Evan Ratliff
My friend Kristen recommended this book last month and she did not go wrong. It's the fascinating story of the Justice Department's quest to bring down Paul LeRoux, the creator of a world-wide internet based pharmacy business. He also developed one of the world's best encryption program.
It's really well researched and you get a peek into the ruthlessness and corruption of LeRoux and into the pettiness that exists among people in all organizations (apparently, especially the government). It's very well documented and an interesting book. Once again, though, I will say that authors should not narrate their own books! On a 5 point scale, he's a 3 and that made it a little harder to get into at the beginning.
Victim 2117 - A Department Q Novel
By Jussi Adler-Olsen, Read By Graeme Malcolm
It's been 3 years since we've had a new Department Q novel but it was worth the wait. This series is set in Copenhagen and revolved around Detective Carl Morck. In the first book we learn how Carl would up in the basement as a department of one investigating cold cases. He's eventually joined by Rose, Assad and Carl.
In this book Assad has to revisit horrors of his past in the Middle East while Rose and Carl are trying to find a reclusive teen who is using Victim 2117 as his call to implement his own murderous plan. The two cases are tied through this victim.
These are the perfect books for audio because some of the makes seem to be hard to pronounce. For me it's easier to have someone else do that for me! It's good to read these in order because story lines carry through the series. Great writing, character development and story lines. I wish they came out more often.
By Ruth Downie, Read By Simon Vance
This is the 6th book in The Roman Empire series. The medicus, Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are the focus of the series. In this one they are in Britannia at the borderlands during the building of Hadrian's Wall. Ruso's clerk goes missing and a local boy says he saw a body being hidden in the wall.
I really enjoy this series. A lot of the characters carry through the series and you see as their opportunities and fortunes change over time. It's really well written and well narrated.
The Huguenot Chronicles
By Paul CR Monk, Read By David Pickering
After reading Tabula Rosa I got to thinking about some of the great historical fiction books that I've read, like those from Michener, Follett and Rutherford. I wanted to find another. I sometimes search for book by going to Amazon and looking up a book or author that I love and then looking at what Amazon says that other people bought. That's how I found these books which were available on Audible for 1 credit.
This is the story of a Huguenot Protestant family during the reign of Louis XIV. Jeanne and Jacob refused to convert and had their properties and children taken away and ultimately had to leave France separately. Jacob had been arrested and was indentured to a ship heading for the Caribbean. Jeanne had to sneak out of France and found her first refuge in Geneva. The children were taken in by her sister who did convert.
It's the story of their years apart trying to survive. The story sends them to the Caribbean, London, colonial New York and London. It's not the best written book ever but I have never read much about this time in history so it was a nice change from the usual English historical fiction.
By Anne Edwards, Read By Corrie James
The title of this book is quite misleading. It's really a history of the royal family during her time as a member of the family. If you took out everything was wasn't specific to her, you would have a short story.
I don't mean to criticize the Queen. I actually really admire her stoicism and commitment to the family and Great Britain. It's just that I've ready plenty of books about Edward's abdication, Great Britain during WWII and Elizabeth's reign. I didn't know much about King George V so that part was interesting but once the book was on to Edward and the abdication it wasn't as interesting aside from her willingness and ability to sever ties with her son.
By Barry Eisler, Read By Barry Eisler
This is the 7th in the John Rain series but the first one that I have read. I thought this was going to be another series like the Mitch Rapp series that I like so much. But I'm not really drawn to this character or the writing.
Rain is a hired assassin and has been tracked down in Tokyo bu his former black ops commander. He's convinced to take on one more assignment and he brings in three other operatives to work with him. That assignment turns out to be a set up and eventually they set u=out for revenge.
I don't really know why this book didn't work for me but I was happy for it to end and I wasn't particularly attached to any of the characters. That said, the John Rain books are wildy popular so if you like this genre you should at last try one of them.
By John Sandford, Read By Richard Ferrone
I was so happy when this book came off hold at the library just as we were leaving for vacation. I would have one of my favorite authors to listen to while hanging at the beach. I can't believe that I'm saying this about a Sandford book but this one was a disappointment. Maybe at 30 books in the Davenport series, the character is just getting harder to write. Davenport isn't young anymore but he's becoming more vigilante as he gets older and that just doesn't seem right.
In this book Davenport is called to DC to investigate a neo-Nazi website that is targeting children of political figures. No actual crime has been committed as there's no threat so they call in Davenport to investigate "off the books".
One of the things that really bothered me about this book are the strong hackneyed political messages. There's no original thought or conflict of beliefs. It's just the same drivel that we hear in the news every day. It was annoying and the plot and resolution was very predictable. I'm thinking that maybe he isn't actually writing his books anymore. I'll see how the next Virgil Flowers is this fall before I decide if I'm done with these series.
A Reasonable Doubt
By Phillip Margolin, Read By Therese Plummer
This is the 3rd in the Robin Lockwood series. Mom and I picked this one to listen to as we drove to and from the beach. At 7 hours it was the perfect length and we both love mysteries.
Lockwood is a defense attorney in Portland, OR and has recently become partner (after a very short time) in the firm. The previous partner, Regina Barrister, has retired due to early onset dementia. In this book, one of Regina's previous clients, a magician, is back. Previously he was acquitted of murder and attempted murder. Now he debuting a new illusion and wants it patented. (Ridiculous) But he's also a bit of a scammer and has built up quite a list of enemies. The story takes place in 3 different time frames and Regina is back in at times to have miraculous bursts of clear memory.
For a short book this one is way too convoluted and has way too many characters. Plus our heroine Robin, is another typically too strong and independent so she's always at risk of ruining a great relationship and putting her life in danger. She really isn't all that bright.
The Optimal Dose
By Judson Somerville
I read a paper copy of this book while on vacation. My doctor has been prescribing Vitamin D3 (actually a hormone, not a vitamin) for a few years as an immune system boost. It must be working because I haven't had a cold since. But I'd been reading some of the studies linking Vitamin D levels to COVID recovery and I decided that I wanted to read further.
This isn't a very long book. I read the whole thing in a few hours but it was fascinating. Dr. Somerville started researching Vitamin D3 when he was try to solve his own and his patients sleeping problems. He knew that if he could resolve sleeping issues that many other human ailments (pain, fatigue, weight control) could be improved. What he discovered is that the recommended doses that we take are much lower than the optimal dose that we need. It was a fascinating read and a good first step into researching Vitamin D3 benefits and dosing.
People who might be interested in reading this include people with chronic sleep issues, metabolic disease and people who seem to catch every cold and flu that they come in contact with.
The Book of Lost Friends
By Lisa Wingate, Read By Sophie Amoss, Bahni Turpin and others
Before I talk about this lovely book I just want to mention that Bahni Turpin is one of the BEST narrators. When she narrates a character you really feel that it's the actual character talking.She's one of the few narrators that I will actually search for books that she's narrated. All the narrators in this one are very good.
I read my first Lisa Wingate book, Before We Were Yours, last year and I loved it. This one is no exception. You can tell that when a story grabs her that she dives in very deep to thoroughly research every aspect of the story.
The Book of Lost Friends is based on a feature in the Southwestern Christian Advocate that was published in New Orleans after the Civil War. It carried a Lost Friends column that ran until early 1900's where notices were posted by people looking for friends and relatives lost during slavery.
In 1875 there are three women on a dangerous quest leaving Louisiana for Texas. One is a freed slave, one is heiress to a bankrupt plantation and the other is the Creole half sister of the heiress.
In 1987 a young teacher arrives in Louisiana to teach English at a poor school as a means to pay off her school debt. She's trying to get her students interested in reading and discovers an abandoned library at the nearby vacant plantation home. She gets permission to look for books and finds some amazing documents that helps tell the stories the 3 young women.
Lisa Wingate can write! It's a wonderful book.
Catch and Kill
Written and read by Ronan Farrow
Well, at least there's one real journalist left in the world! I knew the Farrow had helped expose Harvey Weinstein but I had no idea how difficult, and sometimes dangerous, the process was. He was blocked by NBC and friends of Weinstein and he was even followed by spies.
Most of the book is about the Weinstein investigation but the real underlying story is about how the media covers for powerful people. I could not put this book down.
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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.