Before I get into the books that I listened to in November I want to answer a question that someone posted last month.
Susan R. posted: I love reading your "reading lists" and have gotten some good books from you. Your mention of an excel spreadsheet for reading made me sit up and take notice. I never thought of doing that but it is a great idea. Would you mind posting what you keep track of and how? I find that lately I start to read a book and discover that I have read it in the past. I don't like to reread a book because the suspense in not there, if that makes sense. Would love to start a spreadsheet but not sure what would be the best format.
Here's my simple spreadsheet that I started in Excel in 1995. Of course there are lots of free spreadsheet options out there, like Sheets in Google Docs. If I were starting this now I'd probably start it in Google Docs so I could have access to it anywhere. Of course I can also just store this document in Google Docs too.
But the point is that my spreadsheet is really simple. I capture the title, author, book rating (1 - 10), narrator, narrator rating (1 - 4), comments and date finished.
The nice thing about an electronic spreadsheet is the ability to sort on any field or search out names. I sorted on date to discover that my first entry was January 1995 and the book was Pulse by Edna Buchanan and I didn't like it much. The spreadsheet currently has 1221 entries and that's an average run rate of 53 books a year. I know that since I retired that I'm going through them much faster than when I was working.
I do reference the spreadsheet often. If I think I found a new author I'll search the spreadsheet just to make sure. I'll also check the narrator to see if I've heard and rated them before. A bad narrator can really ruin a good book.
When I finish a book I add it to the spreadsheet, review it on Audible and write the blog review before I start the next book. It's not all that much work and it's been really beneficial.
It was a great month of reading! I loved every book that I read this month. One of them was, hands down, the most important book that I've read all year. Read on to see which one.
By John Sandford, Narrated by Richard Ferrone
I've been saving this one for a few months and decided that the week that I got sick was just the right time to treat myself to it.
This is #27 in the Lucas Davenport series and you might expect that the character and storylines might get boring at this point in the series. But authors like John Sandford, Michael Connelly and Anne Perry know when it's time to send their characters on different adventures. John Sandford has moved Lucas away from Minnesota crimes by putting him in the US Marshall Service. He still lives and is based out of Minneapolis but he works wherever he needs to go on the next "hunting" expedition.
This time he's searching for a group that robbed a drug cartel counting house and murdered several people, including a young girl. We are introduced to new investigation partners that I expect (and hope) we will see in the next novel.
Richard Ferrone, in my opinion, is perfect for narrating Lucas' stories.
A Place Called Freedom
by Ken Follett, Narrated by Simon Prebble
Usually when you think of a Follett novel you expect about 30 hours of fine listening. This is an early novel (1995) and is shorter than most. But it's still a great story. This one opens in 1766 with Mack McAsh wanting to escape his life of slavery in a Scottish coal mine. Lizzie Hamlin is caught in an unhappy marriage to a spineless husband. Both want to escape.
It may be one of his early works but it's still another great Follett historical novel.
by Libble Hawker, Narrated by Amy McFaddin
A few years ago Chris and I took a vacation trip to Seattle and one of my favorite things was the underground tour at Pioneer Square. That is what piqued my interest in this book. In the 1860's the ratio of men to women in Seattle was about 10:1 and most of those women were "seamstresses", the common name for prostitutes. A man named Asa Mercer had an idea to bring "good" women from the East to Seattle to be wives. He specifically went to Lowell, MA to recruit the women because Lowell has been hit hard by the war and many of the mills had closed and women were unemployed. He hoped to bring 200 women but actually brought only about a dozen on his first trip. These women were knows as the Mercer Girls.
This book introduces us to 3 fictional Mercer girls to explore what might have enticed young women to make that voyage and how they might have integrated into Seattle culture. It's an interesting story although the characters might have been developed a little too rigidly. The narrator was good but definitely better suited for romance novels. Her voice is good but too girly for my taste.
At the end of the book the author provides some good information on some of the real Mercer girls and how she developed her characters. All in all, it was a good read.
The Art of Invisibility
by Kevin Mitnick, Narrated by Ray Porter
Hands down, this is the most important book that I've read all year. It's so important that this is what my friends are getting for Christmas. (They probably aren't going to be particularly impressed but, hopefully, at least one of them will read it.) I recommend reading a paper version so you can bookmark things rather than listening and trying to take notes. Because this is a book that will result in action items.
I know that most of us have given up on any concept of privacy on the internet but we do need to know just where and how we are exposed and some things we can do to mitigate the exposure.
Kevin Mitnick was the worlds most famous hacker and I read his autobiography, Ghost In The Wires, a few years ago. He's really, really smart and also kind of a sanctimonious jerk but that doesn't negate the knowledge that he shares. In this book there is an overriding focus on actually being invisible on the internet which is something most of us aren't interested in at all. But we do need to know what data is tracked on our cars, smartphones, computer browsers, fitness trackers and appliances. Believe me, it's a LOT more than you think. With that knowledge he provides some reasonably easy things that we can each do to better protect ourselves and our families. Honestly, I believe that someone in every family should read this book and don't buy Alexa unless you read this book first!
The Wrong Side of Goodbye
by Michael Connelly, Narrated by Titus Welliver
Harry Bosch #19. Harry is working part time at San Fernando PD on a series of rape cases that he's tied together. He's also doing private work on the side for a wealthy mogul who wants to know if he has an heir.
Another great Bosch novel. Great storylines and characters. His half-brother Mickey Haller also makes an appearance.
by Harlan Coben, Narrated by Scott Brick
Years ago I read some of the early books in Coben's Myron Bolitar series. I didn't care for them but I had read that the stand-alone novels were better than the series. That was a good recommendation.
It's ironic that I read this book so soon after reading "The Art of Invisibility" because this one is all about computer and internet privacy. There are a couple of storylines that, at first, seem completely unrelated ut everything ties together in the end.
The main story is about the Baye family. Adam Baye's parents have put spy software on their son's computer because of his behavior since a high school friend committed suicide. There's another storyline where women are being abducted and tortured to death.
It's a good story and held my interest throughout. I picked this one up in one of their sales and I think I'll try more Coben books again.
Mary Called Magdalene
by Margaret George, Narrated by Kate Reading
I finished off the month with one of my favorite historical fiction writers, Margaret George. This is a fictional biography of Mary and therefore a story about Jesus. Thanksgiving week seemed the perfect time to start reading this book and I truly enjoyed it.
If you are a theologian or academic you may hate this book but if you go into it understanding that it's historical FICTION I think you will enjoy the story.
We know very little about the real Mary Magdalene and this book gives her a plausible story and personality. For people, like me, with very little religious education it's nice way to get some understanding of the story of Christianity.
11/30/2017 08:03:50 am
A spreadsheet for you books - why am I not surprised? LOL!!!
I would have never thought to do a spreadsheet for books but mine would be so long I would have never bothered to do it! I don't mind reading books again and most times though now with reading on my kindle it doesn't happened as all my books on kindle is kept track of from my amazon account which keeps the library books listed on it also - I have read several that you have listed and will look for the Harlen Corbin as I keep hearing some say he is good and others say he isn't - I will check the libraries page for one that isn't a series
11/30/2017 11:03:08 am
Thank you for the book reviews - I always enjoy reading them. Thank you for the review of the Mitnick book - I will definitely read that one. What an important and timely subject! Had not heard of it. Our paper eliminated the NYT Best Sellers list a number of months ago, and cut down on the book reviews, which I'm not happy about. I wrote to the paper to express my opinion but never heard back!
11/30/2017 11:52:36 am
I've always kept a book list, long before computers, though not as thorough as you. I'm not even sure why; maybe cause I like lists. Probably to track authors I like and authors I don't like. Checking the library now for your recommendations.
11/30/2017 06:39:14 pm
I'm pretty certain that, for me, a spreadsheet wouldn't last. I once decided that I would make lists of the books by various authors that I've already read and would, in theory, avoid picking them up again and again. Oddly enough (ahem) THAT particular plan fell by the wayside very quickly! Harten Coben is a new (at least to me) author and both Jack and I are devouring his books. Ken Follett is another favourite but I haven't read this one yet.
A spreadsheet is a great idea, particularly to keep up with the narrator. I should have done that some time ago, mine is in Word alphabetically by author. A couple of years ago I started keeping my books read on Goodreads and writing reviews on them too. That has come in handy at the bookstore when I didn't have my printout, as I could go on the internet and find my book list there.
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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.